IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
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.

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. 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 Brittish 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.

The signatures:
Column 1:

Column 2: Column 3: Column 4: Column 5: Column 6:

It always seemed interesting to me that the United States had the original Declaration of Independence. Would King George actually send this traitorous document back to the revolting colonies? Truth be told, the actual document never went overseas.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence are written in American historybooks as the greatest freedom fighters ever. These men were very brave, incredibly patriotic, and extremely noble. They were fighting for truth, for justice, for the American way. In reality, the signers were very afraid of a British backlash. The King of Britain was the most powerful man in their world. What would he do to them when he found out they signed the Declaration of Independence.

The original document was reprinted, without the signatures, and distributed to the colonies and sent overseas to Britain. What King George saw was a reprint of the original that made its way to England. Even that wasn't an exact copy. Being that the signatures were missing, he could not single out any traitors within the colonies. The original Declaration of Independence currently resides in the National Archives, complete with the original signatures.

Actually there is a clause written by Thomas Jefferson addressing the issue of slavery that was stricken from the final Declaration of Independence. Although Jefferson himself owned slaves, he wrote a strongly worded attack on the subject. It was stricken at the request of both South Carolina and Georgia, both of whom never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves and wished for the practice to continue. The following is the text of the clause.

He, King George, has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispherre, or to incur miserable death in their transportation there. 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 and sold, he has prostituted his veto for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished caprice, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has also obtruded them, thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
Declaration of Independence as traditional conservative document

Traditional Conservatism preaches that history has made society the reservoir of human knowledge and within that reservoir, rights are evident, as tradition makes them known; no appeal to abstractions are needed. By nature, those who are fit to lead, lead, and those who are fit to serve, serve. Tradition obligates the nobles to support those socially beneath them (Noblesse Oblige). In a proper society, everyone knows their place as dictated by custom, and harmony prevails. Therefore, change should be avoided, to protect from social instability, but when inevitable, change should be gradual and focused, paying mind to the will of the people. In the eighteenth century, the American colonists were the victims of Britain's irresponsible altering, and so rebelled.

As to not seem like radicals, the enemy of Traditional Conservatism, the colonists appealed to the world by authoring the Declaration of Independence. Within this, they listed the grievances against the king, and how their actions were prudent and not without proper warning. Before the conflict, the colonists enjoyed the liberties granted by charters and their circumstances of emigration. Life had developed around this, and traditions had formed. This accustomed life was shaken by British, as attempts were made to alter foundations of the colonies.

Tradition is self-justified, and denying it makes life turbulent. As stated by the Declaration of Independence, minor nuisances do not necessitate change. Only when tradition is denied, should alteration proceed. Edmond Burke, the famous Traditional Conservative author, supported the American Revolution as the grievances shown proved the British to be fanatics, and those revolting to be in favor of sticking to customs. As the British tyranny grew, the colonist could no longer stand for the unjustified changes.

These injuries by the king were not minor, and many appeals had been made on the part of the colonists. Fighting was the last resort, as the declaration acknowledges that humans should be more apt to patience, rather than pursue change. Fair warning was given, but fell on deaf ears, and independence was necessary.

When change is called for, focus is needed as protect from needless loss tradition. To preserve the useful ties, animosity had been only displayed toward the British for the reasons of protecting habit. Within the document, the will to befriend the British after the conflict is present, as history had made them a friend. The Declaration of Independence sought not to change, but to preserve the customary life of the colonists. By publishing it, the Americans sought to appeal their cause to history and to whoever cared and might support them.

Twelve colonies voted "unanimously" on 2 July, 1776, with NY abstaining, to resolve that "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States" and on 4 July, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by congress.

A committee was chosen on 11 June, earlier that year, to draft what became the declaration of independence in case it would become needed. The committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. The first draft was written by Thomas Jefferson who was a respected political philosopher. Later it was revised by the committee. The revisions included expanding the charges against the king of England, deleting a portion that condemned British people, deleting a reference to "Scotch & foreign mercenaries", and deleting the portion that denounced the African slave trade (reasons being the trades and origins of some of the delegates).

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Name                           Ethnic origin        Religion       Occupation    represented
John Hancock                   English              Congregational Merchant           MA
Button Gwinnett                English              Episcopal      Merchant           GA
Lyman Hall                     English              Congregational Physician          GA
George Walton                  English              Episcopal      Mechanic-Lawyer    GA
William Hooper                 English              Congregational Lawyer             NC
Joseph Hewes                   English              Episcopal      Merchant           NC
John Penn                      English              Episcopal      Lawyer             NC
Edward Rutledge                English              Episcopal      Planter-Lawyer     SC
Thomas Heyward, Jr.            English              Episcopal      Lawyer             SC
Thomas Lynch, Jr.              Irish-Dutch-English  Episcopal      Lawyer             SC
Arthur Middleton               English              Episcopal      Planter            SC
Samuel Chase                   English              Episcopal      Lawyer             MD
William Paca                   Italian-English      Episcopal      Lawyer             MD
Thomas Stone                   English              Episcopal      Lawyer             MD
Charles Carroll of Carrollton  Irish                Roman Catholic Planter            MD
George Whyte                   English              Episcopal      Lawyer             VA
Richard Henry Lee              English              Episcopal      Planter            VA
Thomas Jefferson               English              Episcopal      Planter-Lawyer     VA
Benjamin Harrison              English              Episcopal      Planter            VA
Thomas Nelson, Jr.             Scottish-English     Episcopal      Merchant-Planter   VA
Francis Lightfoot Lee          English              Episcopal      Planter            VA
Carter Braxton                 English              Episcopal      Planter            VA
Robert Morris                  English              Episcopal      Merchant           PA
Benjamin Rush                  English              Epis., Presb.  Physician          PA
Benjamin Franklin              English              Deist          Printer            PA
John Morton                    Swedish-English      Episcopal      Farmer             PA
George Clymer                  English              Episcopal      Merchant           PA
James Smith                    Scotch-Irish         Epis., Presb.  Lawyer             PA
George Taylor                  Scotch-Irish         Episcopal      Ironmaster         PA
James Wilson                   Scottish             Presbyterian   Lawyer             PA
George Ross                    Scottish             Episcopal      Lawyer             PA
Caesar Rodney                  English              Episcopal      Planter            DE
George Read                    Irish-Welsh          Episcopal      Lawyer             DE
Thomas McKean                  Scotch-Irish         Presbyterian   Lawyer             DE
William Floyd                  Welsh-English        Presbyterian   Landowner          NY
Philip Livingston              Dutch-Scottish       Presbyterian   Merchant           NY
Francis Lewis                  Welsh                Episcopal      Merchant           NY
Lewis Morris                   English-Dutch        Episcopal      Landowner          NY
Richard Stockton               English              Presbyterian   Lawyer             NJ
John Witherspoon               Scottish             Presbyterian   Clergyman          NJ
Francis Hopkinson              English              Episcopal      Lawyer-Writer      NJ
John Hart                      English              Baptist        Farmer             NJ
Abraham Clark                  English              Presbyterian   Surveyor           NJ
Josiah Bartlett                English              Congregational Physician-Judge    NH
William Whipple                English              Congregational Merchant-Judge     NH
Matthew Thornton               Scotch-Irish         Congregational Physician          NH
Samuel Adams                   English              Congregational Politician         MA
John Adams                     English              Unitarian      Lawyer             MA
Robert Treat Paine             English              Unitarian      Lawyer             MA
Elbridge Gerry                 English              Episcopal      Merchant           MA
Sephen Hopkins                 English              Quaker         Surveyor-Merchant  RI
William Ellery                 English              Congregational Lawyer             RI
Roger Sherman                  English              Congregational Cobbler-Lawyer     CT
Samuel Huntington              English              Congregational Lawyer             CT
William Williams               English              Congregational Merchant           CT
Oliver Wolcott                 English              Congregational Lawyer             CT

Source: Encyclopædia Britannica, volume 7. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc, 1965.

My brother is a teacher, and he couldn't find any translation of the Declaration of Independence -- a nice document, but an awfully wordy way of saying 'go screw yourself, Majesty' -- into language that his students might understand.

I found this for him in a book that appeared to be owned by only four libraries anywhere. Fortunately, I knew some of the librarians at one of those four libraries, and they faxed me this excerpt of the book within the hour. My brother was stunned to see how quickly I could make a solution to his problems show up on the fax machine down at the school's office. I told him, "Never underestimate a librarian." That's the moral of this story.

Well, having found it, I figured it might come in handy for one or more of you guys. So here's the translation:

The Declaration of Independence
(In Modern English)

Unanimously adopted at Philadelphia July 4, 1776
We ought to give reasons for this declaration.


All men are created equal: They have natural rights they can't give up.
Life -- Liberty -- The Pursuit of Happiness.
Governments are set up to secure these rights.
Governments get their power from the consent of the people.
When a government destroys this purpose,
the PEOPLE have a right to change it and set up a new government
with a better chance of giving people safety and happiness.


Most people are more willing to suffer than change. But enough is enough!
We've had it as colonies of England. King George is determined to grind us down.


King George won't approve laws for the public good.
He won't let his governors of the colonies pass necessary laws and he drags his feet when they are approved.
He has blackmailed us by refusing to OK laws until we give up our representations.
He has tried to wear down our legislators by making them meet in out of the way places.
He has dissolved our legislatures when they oppose his tyranny.
This has left us without defense from invasion and domestic disorder.


The King tried to keep people from coming to the colonies.
He won't approve laws for setting up courts.
He makes judges serve at his will and for whatever he wants to pay them.


He has sent swarms of officers here to harass us and waste our money.
He keeps armies here without our consent.
He has put the Military above civil law.
He has subjected us to courts against our constitution.


He lets them get away with murder by mock trials.
He has cut off our trade with the rest of the world.
He has slapped on taxes without our consent.
He has often canceled trial by jury.
He has hauled us off to England for pretended offenses.
He has wiped out the free system of English law in Canada.
Now he hopes to do the same to us.
He has taken away our charters.
He has destroyed our legislatures.
Instead of protecting us he is fighting against us!
He has ripped off our shipping.
Wasted our coasts. Burned our towns.
Killed our people.
He has sent hired armies here to kill our people and ruin our country with such cruelty as the world has never seen.


The King has captured our citizens on the high seas.
He has made them join his armies or be shot!
This has made them murderers of their own brothers.


Every patient petition from us has led to another abuse. We've talked to Englishmen who know about this and they've turned a deaf ear.


From now on they are our enemies in war -- friends in peace.

WE "declare that these United Colonies
are, and of Right ought to be,
Free and Independent States."

All ties with Great Britain are ended.

"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."

SOURCE: Hersey, William D. "Your Handbook to the American Dream: the Constitution of the United States in Modern English, Including the Words of the Official Document".

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