Read Both Jefferson “Declaration of Independence” and King “I Have a Dream”
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1 The delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire; Mas-
sachusetts Bay; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; Con-
necticut; New York; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; New Castle,
Kent, and Sussex, in Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; North Caro-
lina, and South Carolina, In Congress assembled at Philadelphia,
Resolved on the 10th of May, 1776, to recommend to the respec-
tive assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no
government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs had been
established, to adopt such a government as should, in the opin-
ion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the hap-
piness and safety of their constituents in particular, and of
America in general. A preamble to this resolution, agreed to on
the 15th of May, stated the intention to be totally to suppress
the exercise of every kind of authority under the British crown.
On the 7th of June, certain resolutions respecting independency
were moved and seconded. On the 10th of June it was resolved,
that a committee should be appointed to prepare a declaration
to the following effect: ‘‘That the United Colonies are, and of
right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are ab-
solved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all po-
litical connection between them and the State of Great Britain
is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.’’ On the preceding day it
was determined that the committee for preparing the declara-
tion should consist of five, and they were chosen accordingly, in
the following order: Mr. Jefferson, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Franklin,
Mr. Sherman, Mr. R. R. Livingston. On the 11th of June a resolu-
tion was passed to appoint a committee to prepare and digest
the form of a confederation to be entered into between the colo-
nies, and another committee to prepare a plan of treaties to be
proposed to foreign powers. On the 12th of June, it was resolved,
that a committee of Congress should be appointed by the name
of a board of war and ordnance, to consist of five members. On
the 25th of June, a declaration of the deputies of Pennsylvania,
met in provincial conference, expressing their willingness to
concur in a vote declaring the United Colonies free and inde-
pendent States, was laid before Congress and read. On the 28th
of June, the committee appointed to prepare a declaration of
independence brought in a draught, which was read, and ordered
to lie on the table. On the 1st of July, a resolution of the conven-
tion of Maryland, passed the 28th of June, authorizing the depu-
ties of that colony to concur in declaring the United Colonies
free and independent States, was laid before Congress and read.
On the same day Congress resolved itself into a committee of the
whole, to take into consideration the resolution respecting inde-
pendency. On the 2d of July, a resolution declaring the colonies
free and independent States, was adopted. A declaration to that
effect was, on the same and the following days, taken into fur-
ther consideration. Finally, on the 4th of July, the Declaration
of Independence was agreed to, engrossed on paper, signed by
John Hancock as president, and directed to be sent to the sev-
eral assemblies, conventions, and committees, or councils of
safety, and to the several commanding officers of the continen-
tal troops, and to be proclaimed in each of the United States,
and at the head of the Army. It was also ordered to be entered
upon the Journals of Congress, and on the 2d of August, a copy
engrossed on parchment was signed by all but one of the fifty-
six signers whose names are appended to it. That one was Mat-
thew Thornton, of New Hampshire, who on taking his seat in No-
vember asked and obtained the privilege of signing it. Several
who signed it on the 2d of August were absent when it was adopt-
ed on the 4th of July, but, approving of it, they thus signified
NOTE.—The proof of this document, as published above, was
read by Mr. Ferdinand Jefferson, the Keeper of the Rolls at the
Department of State, at Washington, who compared it with the
fac-simile of the original in his custody. He says: ‘‘In the fac-
simile, as in the original, the whole instrument runs on without
a break, but dashes are mostly inserted. I have, in this copy, fol-
lowed the arrangement of paragraphs adopted in the publication
of the Declaration in the newspaper of John Dunlap, and as
printed by him for the Congress, which printed copy is inserted
in the original Journal of the old Congress. The same paragraphs
are also made by the author, in the original draught preserved
in the Department of State.’’
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE—1776 1
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united
States of America
WHEN in the Course of human events, it be-
comes 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 man-
kind 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 en-
dowed 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 Gov-
ernment 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. Pru-
dence, indeed, will dictate that Governments
long established should not be changed for light
and transient causes; and accordingly all experi-
ence hath shewn, that mankind are more dis-
posed 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 invari-
ably 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 secu-
rity.—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 re-
peated injuries and usurpations, all having in di-
rect object the establishment of an absolute
Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let
Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most
wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of
immediate and pressing importance, unless sus-
pended in their operation till his Assent should
be obtained; and when so suspended, he has ut-
terly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the ac-
commodation of large districts of people, unless
those people would relinquish the right of Rep-
resentation in the Legislature, a right inestima-
ble to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at
places unusual, uncomfortable, and distance
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Page XLVI THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE—1776
from the depository of their public Records, for
the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compli-
ance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses re-
peatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his
invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dis-
solutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby
the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihila-
tion, have returned to the People at large for
their exercise; the State remaining in the mean
time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from
without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured 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 Appro-
priations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Jus-
tice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for estab-
lishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will
alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the
amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and
sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our peo-
ple, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace,
Standing Armies without the Consent of our leg-
He has affected to render the Military inde-
pendent of and superior to the Civil power.
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:
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 of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the
For imposing Taxes on us without our Con-
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits
of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried
for pretended offenses:
For abolishing the free System of English
Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing
therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging
its Boundaries so as to render it at once an ex-
ample and fit instrument for introducing the
same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our
most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally
the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and de-
claring themselves invested with power to legis-
late for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declar-
ing us out of his Protection and waging War
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts,
burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our
He is 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 scarce-
ly paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and to-
tally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
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.
He has excited domestic insurrections
amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the
inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless In-
dian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes
In every stage of these Oppressions We have
Petitioned for Redress in the most humble
terms: Our repeated Petitions have been an-
swered 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 magnanim-
ity, and we have conjured them by the ties of
our common kindred to disavow these usurpa-
tions, which, would inevitably interrupt our
connections and correspondence. They too have
been deaf to the voice of justice and of con-
sanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the
necessity, which denounces our Separation, and
hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, En-
emies 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 Peo-
ple of these Colonies, solemnly publish and de-
clare, That these United Colonies are, and of
Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT
STATES; that they are Absolved from all Alle-
giance to the British Crown, and that all politi-
cal connection between them and the State of
Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dis-
solved; 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 Inde-
pendent States may of right do. And for the sup-
port of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on
the protection of divine Providence, we mutu-
ally pledge to each other our Lives, our For-
tunes and our sacred Honor.
JOSIAH BARTLETT, MATTHEW THORNTON.
SAML. ADAMS, ROBT. TREAT PAINE,
JOHN ADAMS, ELBRIDGE GERRY.
STEP. HOPKINS, WILLIAM ELLERY.
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Page XLVII THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE—1776
ROGER SHERMAN, WM. WILLIAMS,
SAM’EL HUNTINGTON, OLIVER WOLCOTT.
WM. FLOYD, FRANS. LEWIS,
PHIL. LIVINGSTON, LEWIS MORRIS.
RICHD. STOCKTON, JOHN HART,
JNO. WITHERSPOON, ABRA. CLARK.
ROBT. MORRIS, JAS. SMITH,
BENJAMIN RUSH, GEO. TAYLOR,
BENJA. FRANKLIN, JAMES WILSON,
JOHN MORTON, GEO. ROSS.
CAESAR RODNEY, THO. M’KEAN.
SAMUEL CHASE, CHARLES CARROLL OF
WM. PACA, Carrollton.
GEORGE WYTHE, THOS. NELSON, jr.,
RICHARD HENRY LEE, FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT
TH. JEFFERSON, LEE,
BENJA. HARRISON, CARTER BRAXTON.
WM. HOOPER, JOHN PENN.
THOS. HEYWARD, THOMAS LYNCH, Junr.,
Junr., ARTHUR MIDDLETON.
BUTTON GWINNETT, GEO. WALTON.
NOTE.—Mr. Ferdinand Jefferson, Keeper of the Rolls in the De-
partment of State, at Washington, says: ‘‘The names of the sign-
ers are spelt above as in the fac-simile of the original, but the
punctuation of them is not always the same; neither do the
names of the States appear in the fac-simile of the original. The
names of the signers of each State are grouped together in the
fac-simile of the original, except the name of Matthew Thorn-
ton, which follows that of Oliver Wolcott.’’
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I HAVE A DREAM Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty‐three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self‐hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹ I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest ‐‐ quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self‐evident, that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" ‐‐ one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2 This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this&#
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