We hold these truths …

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.

Return to the full US Declaration of Independence.

One thought on “We hold these truths …

  1. Jefferson was criticized for his “self-evident truths” – more a bit of shorthand than anything else. Only a very few, such as Franklin, believed that ALL men were equal. And, of course, women were left out, if not deliberately then at least rhetorically. I’ve always been puzzled that the “pursuit of Happiness” could be a right, when even the most enslaved being can PURSUE happiness, and none can stop his or her PURSUIT – this is no right since the RIGHT is for this pursuit to be SATISFIED (but perhaps this word “pursuit” was used differently at the time). “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” comes straight from Epicurus’s Principal Doctrines (number 33): “There never was such a thing as absolute justice, but only agreements made in mutual dealings among men in whatever places at various times providing against the infliction or suffering of harm.”(Jefferson admired the Epicurean Materialist philosophy) I’ll deal with the daring words of the rest in another comment.

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