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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 connexions 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 the 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 connexion 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 honour.
The foregoing declaration was, by order of congress, engrossed, and signed by the following members :
New Hampshire. Josiah Bartlett.
William Whipple. Matthew Thornton,
Massachusetts Bay. Samuel Adams,
John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry.
Rhode Island, &.c. Stephen Hopkins,
Connecticut. Roger Sherman,
Samuel Huntingdon, William Williams,
New York. William Floyd,
Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis,
New Jersey Richard Stockton,
John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson,
John Hart. Abraham Clark,
Pennsylvania. Robert Morris,
Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer,
James Smith, George Taylor,
James Wilson. George Ross,
Delaware. Cesar A. Rodney,
George Read. Thomas M'Kean,
Maryland. Samuel Chase,
William Paca, Thomas Stone,
Charles Carroll, Carrollton.
Virginia. George Wythe,
Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee. Carter Braxton,
North Carolina. William Hooper,
Joseph Hewes. John Penn,
South Carolina. Edward Rutledge,
Thomas Heyward, jr. Thomas Lynch, jr. Arthur Middleton.
Georgia. Button Gwinnett,
Lyman Hall. George Walton,
Resolved, That copies of the declaration be sent to the several assemblies, conventions, and committees, or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of the continental troops; that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army.
It will be seen that Congress was, from the beginning, attentive to the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. It appears by the journals, that in the year 1777, an adjournment took place from Thursday, the 3d of July, to Saturday, the 5th. And, on the 24th of June, 1778, Congress having determined to adjourd from York Town, in Pennsylvania, to meet at Philadelphia on the 2nd of July following, passed the subjoined resolution; in which it was farther resolved, that Cougress would, in a body, attend divine worship on Sunday, the 5th day of July, to return thanks for the divine mere cy, in supporting the independence of the states, and that the chaplains should be notified to officiate and preach sermons suited to the occasion:
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to take proper measures for å public celebration of the anniversary of independence at Philadelphia, on the 4th day of July next; and that they be authorized and directed to invite the president and council, and speaker of the assembly of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and such other gentlemen and strangers of distinction, as they shall deem proper.
IN CONGRESS, MAY 8, 1778.
Of the Congress, to the Inhabitants of the United States of
America. Friends and Countrymen,
THREE years have now passed away, since the commencement of the present war. A war without parallel in the annals of mankind. It hath displayed a spectacle, the most solemn that can possibly be exhibited. On one side, we behold fraud and violence labouring in the service of despotism; on the other, virtue and fortitude supporting and establishing the rights of human nature.
You cannot but remember how reluctantly we were dragged into this arduous contest; and how repeatedly, with the earnestness of humble entreaty, we supplicated a redress of our grievances from him who ought to have been the father of his people. In vain did we implore his protection: In vain appeal to the justice, the generosity, of Englishmen; of men, who had been the guardians, the assertors, and vindicators of liberty through a succession of ages: Men, who, with their swords, had
established the firm barrier of freedom, and cemented it with the blood of heroes. Every effort was vain. For, even whilst we were prostrated at the foot of the throne, that fatal blow was struck, which hath separated us forever. Thus spurned, contemned and insulted; thus driven by our enemies into measures, which our souls abhorred; we made a solemn appeal to the tribunal of unerring wisdom and justice. To that Almighty Ruler of Princes, whose kingdom is over all.
We were then quite defenceless. Without arms, without ammunition, without clothing, without ships, without money, without officers skilled in war; with no other reliance but the bravery of our people and the justice of our cause. We had to contend with a nation great in arts and in arms, whose fleets covered the ocean, whose banners had waved in triumph through every quarter of the globe. However unequal this contest, our weakness was still farther increased by the enemies which America had nourished in her bosom. Thus exposed, on the one hand, to external force and internal divisions; on the other to be compelled to drink of the bitter cup of slavery, and to go sorrowing all our lives long; in this sad alternative, we chose the former. To this alternative we were reduced by men, who, had they been animated by one spark of generosity, would have disdained to take such mean advantage of our situation; or, had they paid the least regard to the rules of justice, would have considered with abhorrence a proposition to injure those, who had faithfully fought their battles, and industriously contributed to rear the edifice of their glory.
But, however great the injustice of our foes in commencing this war, it is by no means equal to that cruelty