The Declaration of Independence – A world renowned document.
Here is an easy explanation:
“WHEN 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.”
· The early Americans colonists believe it is time to separate themselves from English rule.
· They have a right from God to do this and out of respect to mankind, they are going to give the reasons for doing so.
“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.”
· It is plain to see that Men are equal in certain rights, given them by God, namely, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
· That governments are instituted and given power by the people to secure those rights.
· When governments begin to destroy those rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government and to institute a new government.
· The people are to lay the foundation on such principles and organize its power in such a way as to be for their safety and happiness.
· Governments long established should not be abolished for light causes.
· It has been shown that men have suffered at the hands of government because they are accustom to it.
· Governments who continue to abuse the people are absolute despots.
· It is the right and duty of the people to throw off such governments and to provide new protections for their future security.
· Such abuses has happened to the American colonies and they have been patient in suffering it.
· It is now necessary to alter their system of government.
· History shows that the present King of Great Britain has repeated injuries and usurpations, becoming an absolute tyranny over the States.
The Founding Fathers then listed all the abuses they had suffered at the hands of the King.
Here are the abuses they listed:
1. HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
Meaning: (He refuses to obey the laws needed for public good.)
2. HE has forbidden his Governors to pass 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.
Meaning: (He refuses to let laws that are needed right away, be made without his permission and the ones he does give permission for he doesn't enforce them.)
3. 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.
Meaning: (He refuses to pass laws in certain districts, unless the people give up their right of representation, which tyrants do.)
4. 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.
Meaning: (He calls together the Legislative Bodies to meet at inconvenient places to wear them out so they will conform to his measures.)
5. HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
Meaning: (He has dissolved Representative Houses so he can invade on the Rights of the People.)
6. HE has refused for a long Time, after such disolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of the Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.
Meaning: (He has refused to keep the legislative offices filled causing a danger to the people.)
7. HE has endeavored 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.
Meaning: (Through different means he makes it hard for people to immigrate to America.)
8. HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
Meaning: (He stops the proper administration of Justice)
9. HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
Meaning: (He controls the Judges so they will do his will.)
10. HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
Meaning: (He has created many new government offices to harass the people and eat up their money)
11. HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.
Meaning: (He has put the military among the people without the consent of the Legislatures.)
12. HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
Meaning: (He has made the military more powerful than the people.)
13. 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:
Meaning: (He is letting foreigners rule over the people and making them subject to foreign law.)
14. FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us;
Meaning: (He is having large bodies of the armed troops stay in the homes of the people.)
15. FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
Meaning: (He is protecting the soldiers by fake trials and not punishing them for murder.)
16. FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
Meaning: (He is stopping other countries from trading with the American people.)
17. FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
Meaning: . (He is imposing taxes without representation.)
18. FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
Meaning: (Depriving the Americans of a trial by Jury.)
19. FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
Meaning: (Having the Americans tried for false offenses and taking them overseas for their trial. )
20. FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring 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 Rules into these Colonies:
Meaning: (Establishing absolute rules in one part of the country and extending it to evidently include them all.)
21. FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
Meaning: (Doing away with the American’s laws and form of government.)
22. FOR suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
Meaning: (Doing away with the Legislative authority of the Americans and declaring all power is in the King’s officers.)
23. HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. The most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
Meaning: (He won’t protect us but wages war against us and is unworthy to be head of a civilized nation.)
24. 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.
Meaning: (He is requiring Americans to kill other Americans)
25. HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored 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.
Meaning: (He is causing rebellion among the people and exciting the Indians to come in and fight against us.)
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.
· Meaning: (The early Americans applied for regress with no avail. The King and English Parliament refused to address their grievances.
· The King is a tyrant and unfit to rule 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.
Meaning: ( They have warned the British people several times of the attempts by their Legislature to unjustly rule over the Americans.)
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.
Meaning: ( They reminded the British of the reason the people came to America in the first place and how they are related to those in England and that the British people should not allow the rights of the Americans to rule themselves be taken away and this friction between the British and the Americans would cause a separation between them.)
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.
Meaning: (The British people themselves will not listen to Just cause of the Americans. The Americans must therefore separate and consider the British enemies in war.)
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 Fortune in the Name and authority of the American people s, and our sacred Honor.
Meaning: (The Representatives of the United States of America in the Name and authority of the American people, appealing to God, their intentions, declare that they are Free and Independent States and they absolved all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is totally dissolved. To support this declaration they pledge their live, fortunes and sacred honor, firmly relying on God for protection.)
GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
NORTH-CAROLINA, Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thos Heyward, junr., Thomas Lynch, junr., Arthur Middleton.
MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca, Thos. Stone, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.
VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Ths. Jefferson, Benja. Harrison, Thos. Nelson, jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton.
PENNSYLVANIA, Robt. Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benja. Franklin, John Morton, Geo. Clymer, Jas. Smith, Geo. Taylor, James Wilson, Geo. Ross.
DELAWARE, Caesar Rodney, Geo. Read.
NEW-YORK, Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston, Frank Lewis, Lewis Morris.
NEW-JERSEY, Richd. Stockton, Jno. Witherspoon, Fras. Hopkinson, John Hart, Abra. Clark.
NEW-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, Wm. Whipple, Matthew Thornton.
MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Saml. Adams, John Adams, Robt. Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE, C. Step. Hopkins, William Ellery.
CONNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Saml. Huntington, Wm. Williams, Oliver Wolcott.
In 1776, fifty-six Americans signed a simple document which unalterably changed the course of this country. Most know of the importance of the Declaration of Independence, but few know much about its Signers.
These men laid their lives in the hands of God by signing this declaration. They knew if they were ever caught, they would be killed.
Learn more about their lives by reading the book, The Lives of Signers of the Declaration of Independence. It can be found at: http://www.learntheconstitution.com
Linda N. Hackett