The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

The Want, Will, and Hopes of the People

Declaration text | Rough Draft | Congress's Draft | Compare | Dunlap Broadside | Image | Scan

Rough Draft

This is the "Rough Draft" text of the Declaration as Jefferson probably presented it to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, for correction, prior to committee. A transcription is provided below the image on this page. Click the image for an enlargement.



    When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a^ 

     dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,
  people to ^advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto 

  and to                                             separate and equal
  ^remained, & to assume among the powers of the earth the ^equal and

  independent station to which the laws of nature and of nature's god

  entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires

                                                      the separation
  that they should declare the causes which impel them to ^change.

    We hold these truths to be ^sacred & undeniable; that all Men

                             they are endowed by their creator with 
  are created equal & independent; that ^from that equal creation they

  equal rights, some of which are   rights; that   these
  derive in rights inherent & inalienable ^ among ^which are the

  preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness;

  that to secure these ^ends, governments are instituted among men,

  deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that

  whenever any form of government shall becomes destructive of these

  ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, & to

  institute new government, laying it's foundation on such principles,

  & organizing it's powers in such form, as to them shall seem most

  likely to effect their safety & happiness.  prudence indeed will

  dictate that governments long established should not be changed for

  light & transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown

  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 & usurpations pursuing

  invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject reduce them 

 under absolute Despotism [FRANKLIN]
  ^to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off

  such government, & to provide new guards for their future security

  such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; & such is now

  the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of

                             the             king of Great Britain [ADAMS]
  government.  the History of ^his the present ^majesty is a history of

                                             appears no solitary fact
  repeated injuries & usurpations, among which ^no one fact stands single

                                                          but all
  and solitary to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, ^all of which

  have in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over

  these states.  to prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world,

  for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.

he has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome & necessary for

  the public good:

he has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate & 

  pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation

  till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended,

  he has neglected utterly 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

                in the Legislature
  representation ^, a right inestimable to them, & formidable to tyrants


he has called together legislative bodies in places unusual,

  uncomfortable & distant from the depository of their public records

  for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his


he has dissolved Representative houses repeatedly & continually, for

  opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the Rights of the People.

                                           time after such dissolutions
he has dissolved, he has refused for a long ^ space of 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 

  meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, & 

  convulsions within:

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;

  & raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands:  

he has suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in 

  some of these ^ colonies, refusing his assent to laws for

  establishing judiciary powers:  

he has made our judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure

                       the       and payment  [FRANKLIN]
  of their offices, and ^ amount ^ of their Salaries:  

he has erected a multitude of new offices by a self-assumed power,

  & sent hither swarms of new officers to harass our people and eat

  out their substance.  

                                    without our consent
he has kept among us in times of peace ^ standing armies, 

              without ^our consent. of our legislatures
  & ships of war^:

he has affected to render the military independent of, & superior

  to the civil power:

he has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign

  to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his

                 acts of
  assent to their ^ pretended acts of legislation,

  for quartering large bodies of Armed Troops among us; 

  for protecting them, by a mock-trial from punishment for any 

     murders ^ 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 of the benefits 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 neighboring province,

  establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging it's 

  boundaries so as to render it at once an example & fit instrument

  for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies states;

                               abolishing our most ^important laws [FRANKLIN]
  for taking away our charters, ^ & altering fundimentally the forms of

    our governments;

  for suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves

    invested with power to legislate for us in all cases


he has abdicated government here, withdrawing his governors, 

  & declaring us out of his allegiance & protection: 

he has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns,

  & destroyed the lives of our people:

he is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries

  to compleat the works of death, desolation & tyranny, already begun

  with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy unworthy the head of a

  civilized nation:

he has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the

  merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare in an

  undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, & conditions of


he has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow-citizens,

  with the allurements of forfeiture & confiscation of our property:

                          taken captives
he has constrained others, ^falling into his hands, on the high

  seas to bear arms against their country, & to destroy & be

  destroyed by their breteren whom they love, to become the

  executioners of their friends & brethren, or to fall themselves

  by their hands.

he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating

  it's most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of

  a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying

  them to slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable

  death in their transportations thither. this piratical warfare,

  the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian

  king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN

  should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for

  suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain

determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold
  this excrable commerce ^ and that this assemblage of horrors might

  want no fact of distiguished die, he is now exciting those very

  people to rise in arms against us, and to purchase that liberty

  of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom

  he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes which he

  urges them to commit against the lives of another.

in every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for

  redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have

               only [FRANKLIN]
  been answered ^ 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 people who mean to be free. future

  ages will scarce belive that the hardiness of one man, adventured

          to ^lay a foundation so broad & undistiguished for tyranny
  within the short compass of twelve years only, ^on so many acts

  of tyrany without a mask, over a people fostered & fixed in

  principles of ^liberty.

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 a jurisdiction over these our states. we

  have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration &

  settlement here, no one of which could warrent so strange a

  pretention: that these were effected at the expence of our own

  blood & treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of

  Great Britain: that in constituting indeed our several forms

  of government, we had adopted one common king, thereby laying a

  foundation for perpetual league & amity with them: but that

  submission to their parliament was no part of our constitution,

  nor ever in idea if history may be credited: and we appealed to

  their native justice and magnanimity as well as the ties of our

  common kindred to disavow these usurpations which were likely to

               connection &
  interrupt our ^ correspondence. they too have been deaf to the

  voice of justice & of consanguinity & when occations have been

  given them, by the regular course of their laws, of removing from

  their councils the disturbers of our harmony, they have by their

  free election re-established them in power. at this very time too

  they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over not only

  soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch & foriegn mercinaries to

          destroy us [FRANKLIN]
  invade & ^deluge us in blood. these facts have given the last stab

  to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us to renounce

  forever these unfeeling bretheren. we must endeavor to forget our

  former love for them, and to hold them, as we hold the rest of

  mankind, enemies in war, in peace, friends. we might have been a

  free & a great people together; but a communication of gradeur &

  of freedom it seems is below their dignity, be it so, since they

                                             & to glory
  will have it: the road to glory & happiness ^ is open to us too;

                  apart from them
  we will climb it ^ in a separatly state, and acquiesce in the

                    de           eternal separation!
  necessity which pro^nounces our ^everlasting adieu!

We therefore the representatives of the United States of 

  America in General Congress assembled, do, in the name & by the

  authority of the good people of these states, reject and 

  renounce all allegiance & subjection to the kings of Great Britain

  & all others who may hereafter claim, by through or under them;

  we utterly dissolve & break off all political connection which

  may have heretofore ^ sibsisted between us & the people or parliament

  of Great Britain; and do finally we do assert and declare these

  colonies to be free and independent states, and that as free &

  independent states they shall hereafter have ^ power to levy war,

  conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, & do all

  other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each

other our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred honor.

View in landscape view to see transcription of rough draft.

Declaration text | Rough Draft | Congress's Draft | Compare | Dunlap Broadside | Image | Scan

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