U.S. Constitution

 

We the People of the United States, in Order to  form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic  Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general  Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our  Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United  States of America.

Article. I.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress  of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of  Representatives.

Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen  every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors  in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of  the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to  the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the  United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that  State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the  several States which may be included within this Union, according to  their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the  whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a  Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all  other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years  after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within  every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law  direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every  thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;  and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire  shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and  Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey  four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten,  North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the  Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such  Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators  from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and  each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first  Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three  Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated  at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the  Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration  of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year;  and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess  of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make  temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which  shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age  of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and  who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which  he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the  Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro  tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall  exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When  sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the  President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall  preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two  thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to  removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office  of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party  convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial,  Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and  Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature  thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such  Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such  Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by  Law appoint a different Day.

Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and  Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall  constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn  from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of  absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House  may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its  Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two  thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to  time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment  require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on  any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be  entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the  Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other  Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for  their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury  of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony  and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their  Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to  and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either  House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was  elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the  United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof  shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any  Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during  his Continuance in Office.

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of  Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as  on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and  the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President  of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he  shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall  have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their  Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two  thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent,  together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall  likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House,  it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses  shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons  voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each  House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President  within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to  him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it,  unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which  Case it shall not be a Law.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was  elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the  United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof  shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any  Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during  his Continuance in Office.ves, according to the Rules and  Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties,  Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense  and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and  Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for  limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their  respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and  for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of  the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment  of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to  the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such  District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of  particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of  the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over  all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in  which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals,  dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying  into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this  Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any  Department or Officer thereof.

Section. 9.

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now  existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the  Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a  Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten  dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended,  unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may  require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in  Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be  taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue  to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels  bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties  in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of  Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the  Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from  time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no  Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without  the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office,  or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section. 10.

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation;  grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit;  make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;  pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post fact o Law, or Law impairing the  Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts  or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary  for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties  and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the  Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be  subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of  Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any  Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or  engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as  will not admit of delay.

Article. II.

Section. 1.

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United  States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four  Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term,  be elected, as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof  may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators  and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress:  but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust  or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by  Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant  of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the  Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they  shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the  Government of the United States, directed to the President of the  Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate  and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes  shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes  shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number  of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such  Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of  Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for  President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest  on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But  in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the  Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this  Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the  States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice.  In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the  greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.  But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate  shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the  Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same  throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United  States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be  eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be  eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty  five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United  States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death,  Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the  said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the  Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation  or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what  Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act  accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be  elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a  Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the  Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive  within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of  them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the  following Oath or Affirmation:—”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I  will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,  and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the  Constitution of the United States.”

Section. 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the  United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called  into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the  Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive  Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective  Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for  Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the  Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present  concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of  the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and  Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the  United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for,  and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest  the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the  President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may  happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which  shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the  State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures  as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary  Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of  Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he  may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive  Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the  Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of  the United States.

Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United  States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction  of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.


U.S. Constitution (Continued)

 

Article III.

Section. 1.

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one  supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time  to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and  inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and  shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation,  which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section. 2.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity,  arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and  Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all  Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all  Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which  the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more  States;— between a State and Citizens of another State,—between  Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State  claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or  the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and  Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court  shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before  mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as  to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the  Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by  Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes  shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the  Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have  directed.

Section. 3.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War  against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and  Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony  of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason,  but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or  Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article. IV.

Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public  Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the  Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts,  Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime,  who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on  Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be  delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the  Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws  thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or  Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall  be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour  may be due.

Section. 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no  new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any  other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more  States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of  the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful  Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property  belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall  be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of  any particular State.

Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a  Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against  Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive  (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it  necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the  Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States,  shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case,  shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this  Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the  several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one  or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;  Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One  thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first  and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that  no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage  in the Senate.

Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the  Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United  States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be  made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be  made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law  of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any  Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary  notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of  the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial  Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be  bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no  religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office  or public Trust under the United States.

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be  sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States  so ratifying the Same.

The Word, “the,” being interlined between the seventh and eighth  Lines of the first Page, The Word “Thirty” being partly written on an  Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words “is tried”  being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the  first Page and the Word “the” being interlined between the forty third  and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.

Attest William Jackson Secretary

done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the  Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven  hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States  of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed  our Names,

The Bill of Rights

 

Congress Of The United States

begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday
the Fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a  number of the States having at the time of their adopting the  Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or  abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses  should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the  Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United  States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses  concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures  of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United  States, all or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of  the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part  of the said Constitution; viz.:

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the  United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the  Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the  original Constitution.


Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or  prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of  speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to  assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free  state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be  infringed.

Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without  the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be  prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,  and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be  violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,  supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place  to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous  crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in  cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in  actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be  subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or  limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness  against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without  due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use,  without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a  speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district  wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have  been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and  cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against  him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor,  and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed  twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no  fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the  United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be  construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor  prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively,  or to the people.

Declaration of Independence

 

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.