After doing this tonight, it strikes me as a good exercise for schoolkids, to get them to read the thing: Rewrite the DoI for a different audience. I hadn't ever read it all the way through. I suppose someone must have done this before, but I didn't google it, I just did it anyway. It was very uplifting.—Emily Votruba
When in the Course of events it becomes necessary to dissolve political bands and assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of the Universe entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of all requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all 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, 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 those governed 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 creatures 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 beings; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present rulers is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
They have refused their Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
They have forbidden their Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till their Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, they have utterly neglected to attend to them.
They have refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts, unless those residents would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
They have called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with their measures.
They have dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with firmness their invasions on rights.
They have refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to creation at large for their exercise; the earth remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
They have endeavoured to prevent the population of the earth; 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.
They have obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
They have made Judges dependent on their Will alone for the judges’ tenure and salaries.
They have erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass and take more than their share.
They have kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without our Consent.
They have affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
They have combined with others to subject the earth to a jurisdiction foreign to its constitution, and unacknowledged by its laws; giving their Assent to Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants:
For cutting off Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes without Consent:
For depriving creatures in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting creatures beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of Laws, 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:
For taking away Charters, abolishing the most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of Governments:
For suspending Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for others in all cases whatsoever.
They have abdicated Government, by declaring some out of their Protection and waging War against them.
They have plundered the seas, ravaged the coasts, burnt towns, and destroyed lives.
They are 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.
They have constrained those taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms, to become the executioners of their friends, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
They have excited domestic insurrections, endeavoured to bring upon the inhabitants of the frontiers the merciless ones 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. Rulers whose character is thus marked by every act which may define Tyranny, are unfit to rule.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our fellow creatures. 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. 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 Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of earth, 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 residents of Earth, solemnly publish and declare, That these united creations are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance, and that all political connection between them and the Rulers, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent beings, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent beings may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Universe, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.