Declaration of Independence

I thought that on the 232nd Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it would be nice to actually read the document again that most of us probably haven't looked at since government class in High School. It is, afterall, the reason why we're celebrating with backyard barbeques today, and why I'm taking families on vacation down the river. And I believe it has some very important things to say regarding how far our country has deviated from the hopes and dreams of its founders.

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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Thanks for reading.

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10 comments:

Henson Ray said...

Thanks for sharing that massive document. (I admit, I only skimmed it...shame on me.) But in summer stock, I once played John Hancock in a production of "1776" and every night when we got to the part where we signed the Declaration, it always gave me chills. Partly because we were in an overly air conditioned theater, but mostly because the significance of the moment was so incredibly powerful. Of course, the orchestra helped too as it played very sweeping music underneath. Even today, when I watch the movie, I get a huge lump in my throat.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend!!!!

July 04, 2008 9:22 AM
crazy working mom said...

Awesome post! :)

I totally DUGG it.

Happy Independence day, my friend.

July 04, 2008 9:47 AM
Len said...

232 years. Still a baby as far as countries go. Here's to another 232.

Have a great weekend. We're going out to see some fireworks tonight, even though it is supposed to be 98 degrees out. (ugh!) But that's nothing compared to what it must be in Iraq today, huh?

July 04, 2008 11:54 AM
Mrs. Mecomber said...

Great post.

Actually, even though we are *only* 232 years old as a nation, we've had our Constitution (and therefore our form of government) longer than most European countries, including France and Russia. So, our form of government is older than theirs. That's not too bad for a "youngster" like the US. :D

July 04, 2008 4:34 PM
Kimmie said...

Happy 4th Of July Matt! I came over via Ken's blog, but I see we have a friend in common also. Tisha of Crazy Working Mom. She is a sweetheart!

I live in Western New York, 30 minutes South of Buffalo. My brother lives in Cleveland, but works in Detroit most of the year. He is a longshoreman, constantly moving about Michigan, but is mostly in the Detroit area.

I look forward to reading your blog, so I will be back. Feel free to visit mine, Olde Lavender Prims. It is my chat blog, the other is my Primitive/Folkart Blog that I just started.

Blessings,
Kimmie

July 04, 2008 5:45 PM
Kimmie said...

Oh! P.S. Love the post and the last photo...it is really pretty.
:-)

July 04, 2008 5:45 PM
Amy Lilley Designs said...

GREAT POST Matt...means much more tonight after watching the whole John& Abigail Adams programming. We are reminded of the brilliance of these men upon which this great nation was birthed...a Happy 4th to you as well....

July 04, 2008 8:08 PM
Mariuca said...

Happy 4th of July Matt! :)

July 05, 2008 2:47 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

All, it's Sunday and I'm catching up on comments for the week. This is in response to your comment on my post: Declaration of Independence.

Henson--Thanks for sharing that...like I said to you earlier this week, I had the chance to see the Declaration of Independence on Display at the National Archives. It was one of those moments in life when you're so close to something so important it's not just like touching history, but it's like a wormhole connection to another place and time--while in the course of major world events, very few will be able to recognize their importance at the time, but through the the proximity to just a document like this, it really takes you to that moment in time, to that place, to that moment that really changed the world in the most significant of ways.

Crazy Working Mom--Et tu!

Len--like I said earlier to you, I can't imagine how difficult it must be for our troops in Iraq. They really must be wondering what they are fighting for, because it's not their freedom, our freedom, or even the Iraqis freedom. I really wish we could bring them home and they could enjoy the fireworks--even on a 98 degree night.

Mrs. Mecomber--great point...Especially after the breakup of the Former Soviet Union, there are a lot of countries in the world out there a lot younger than we are, even if their culture might still be a little bit our senior.

Kimmie--anytime you want to talk about Detroit just let me know. I'm heading back to Detroit this Thursday for four days. I'll also check out your blog. Ken's stuff is amazing. I'm glad you found your way here via Ken.

Cheers!

July 06, 2008 6:35 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Amy--Absolutely. There's so much history surrounding the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War and everything leading up to it. I'm waiting til the Sam Adams special is available on Netflix, but I'll get to see it eventually.

Mariuca--thank you very much!

Cheers!

July 06, 2008 6:46 PM

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