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譯者序:美國獨立宣言乃係美國最重要的官方文件。十七世紀,英國殘酷剝削北美殖民地,北美十三殖民地公民奮起抗爭,誓要推翻殖民統治。一七七六年七月四日,各邦代表在費城第二次大陸會議,通過湯馬士•謝閥臣(Thomas Jefferson)起草之《獨立宣言》,宣告美國誕生,當日是為美國獨立日。

重譯原因:

《獨立宣言》主要中譯本包括:《美國獨立之檄文》, 《國民報》第一期(一九零一年五月十日)(以下簡稱「國民報本」);《世界史資料叢刊》初集,商務印書館一九六二年出版(以下簡稱「叢刊本」);裴孝賢(Donald M. Bishop)編:《美國歷史文獻選集》,中國翻譯出版公司翻譯,美國新聞處(香港)校訂,美國駐華大使館新聞文化處一九八五年出版(以下簡稱「裴本」)。

國民報本以文言出之,優雅氣壯,曾激發鄒容寫革命軍,惜不大準確。叢刊本、裴本皆惡性西化,缺乏文采,事實錯誤亦不免,裴本僅略為準確好讀過叢刊本。

余故重譯美國獨立宣言(以下簡稱「曾本」),翻譯策略如下:用詞務使香港人以至唐人產生共鳴,道地本土而不歪原意,例如宗教字眼譯得令唐人易受,同時保留原文基督教精神。用語簡潔優雅,而又淺白易明,四六成句,層層遞進,避免惡性西法句式,如定語過長、濫用代名詞、弱動詞等。註釋則交待一些中譯用詞典故,以及比較北美當年被英國殖民與香港目下被中國統治情況。下一篇文將詳述翻譯策略及比較四篇譯本。

今年乃係謝閥臣誕生二百七十五週年

謝閥臣(一七四三至一八二六)為美國國父,獨立宣言主要作者,一八零一至一八零九年任美國第三任總統。此前,一七九七至一八零一,任美國副總統。支持民主共和,個人權利,激勵美國受殖者脫離英建國。

宣言第一部份闡明革命基本義理,提出著名人權原則:「上帝創世,人人平等;造物予人不可剝奪之權利,包括生存自由,追求幸福。」第二部分譴責英國殖民當局種種暴政。第三部分宣佈十三殖民地共同建立獨立國家,斷絕與英國的一切政治關係。

謝閥臣思想深受英國哲學家約翰•洛克(John Locke)(一六三二至一七零四)及美國哲學家托馬斯•潘恩(Thomas Paine)(一七三七至一八零九)影響。洛克認為人權天賦,不可剝奪。 潘恩亦認為一旦政府不維護國民天然權利,民眾可政治革命。

美獨宣言二百幾年來啟發各地無數獨立,自決、革命運動

法國國民議會一七八九年起草人權及公民宣言,甚至以美國獨立宣言為典範。加西亞.德西拿García de Sena(一七四八至一八零七)翻譯托馬斯潘恩重要作品摘錄,以及美國憲法,為西班牙文,加上註解,結合本土情況,做政治工具,解放歐洲殖民地南美洲。清末革命烈士鄒容(一八八五至一九零五)受一九零一年國民報譯美國《獨立宣言》內容激勵,一九零三出代表作《革命軍》,鼓動全國革命,推翻滿清殖民統治。

曾焯文註釋譯本如下(小標題如「第x部份」等為譯者所加;譯文後有英文原文):

美國獨立宣言

一七七六年七月四日大陸會議

美利堅十三合眾邦(註一)一致宣言

第一部份:人權原則

世界潮流,浩浩蕩蕩(註二),一旦某民族要與另一民族,解除所有政治束縛,根據自然法則,皇天(註三)授權,以獨立平等身份,躋身國際,則為尊重輿論,必須公佈驅使獨立之因由。吾人以為下列真理不言而喻:上帝創世,人人平等(註四);造物(註五)予人不可剝奪之權利,包括生存自由,追求幸福。

為保此等權利,世人建立政府,而政府之正當權力,須經所統治者同意。無論任何時候,任何政體,破壞此等目標,公民(註六)即有權利義務,更廢政體,建立新政府,而新政府所依賴之原則及權力架構,務使公民認為最能促進其安全幸福。

為審慎起見,建立已久之政府,不應以瑣碎暫時之原因而變更;根據過往經驗,任何苦難,只要尚能容耐,世人與其銷滅歷來習慣之政體,而求伸冤,毋甯含忍不發,然而,假使政府長期濫用職權,巧取豪奪,國民即有權利義務,顛覆政府(註七),重新保障未來樂業安居。

第二部份:列舉殖民地主暴政

此地一眾殖民地啞忍旣久,目下被迫更替舊有政府體制。當今大英國王,一貫巧取豪奪,志在獨裁專制,統治此地各邦。為證斯言不虛,且將事實公諸於世。

英王拒絕批准對公眾極其有益而必須之法律。不少法案,刻不容緩,非常重要,但英王禁止轄下法官批淮,除非先行擱置,待其恩淮,然一旦擱置,卻又束之高閣。

英王拒絕批准照顧大區公民之其他法例,除非區內公民肯放棄立法局代表權,而代表權對吾民無比珍貴,唯暴君畏之懼之(註八)。

英王召集我各立法團體開會之處,遠離公文檔庫,異於尋常,極其不便,目的無非令人疲於奔命,被逼就範。

各方眾議院堅定反對英王侵犯人權,英王即一再解散各邦眾議院(註九)。

解散眾議院後,長期拒絕補選,然而立法權不可或廢,於是歸由公民行使,期間各邦內憂外患,危機重重,包括外敵入侵,內部動亂。

力阻各邦人口增長;阻撓外籍歸化法案通過;拒絕通過法案鼓勵移民;並且提高佔領新地門檻。

拒絕批准建立司法權之法律,妨礙司法工作。

控制法官職位俸祿,迫使法官唯命是從(註十)。

濫任新官,派大批官員滋擾吾民,食我民脂民膏。

太平時期,未經我立法局同意,於各邦駐紮常備軍(註十一)。

令軍隊自外於文官,凌駕其上。

勾結外人,置吾人於憲法以外司法管轄範圍,不符我方法律(註十二),並且批准其偽立法行為(註十三):

於我方駐紮大軍;
以偽審訊,包庇殺我居民之英兵,免受懲罰;
截斷我同世界各地之貿易;
未經我同意,強行徵稅(註十四);
於許多案件,剝奪我由陪審團陪審之權利(註十五);
以莫須有罪名,押吾民往海外受審(註十六);
廢鄰省英國法律自由制度,建立專制政府,擴大疆域,樹立榜樣,當為工具,在此處各殖民地,引入同樣極權統治(註十七);
取消我憲章,廢除我最寶貴的法律,根本改變各邦政府體制;
終止我立法職能,宣稱事無大小,均有權為我立法(註十八)。

宣佈我方不再受其保護,向我方開戰,放棄此地政務。

掠奪我海域,沿岸蹂躪(註十九),燒毀城鎮,殺我同胞(註二十)。

此際正運送大批外國僱傭兵,來到恣意屠戮,殘民以逞,兇狠卑污處,即使野蠻生番(註二十一),亦瞠乎其後,完全不配做文明國家元首。

強制我等公海被俘之同胞,執起武器,對付自己國家;令其成為劊子手,殘殺自己親友,又或死於親友之手。

於我方煽動內亂,竭力教唆無情印第安蠻夷,對付我邊境居民(註二十二)。眾所周知,印第安人作戰,不分男女老幼,是非曲直,格殺勿論。

上述壓迫階段,我等次次皆以最謙遜言辭,懇請糾正。 然而,一次又一次請願,換來一次又一次傷害。英王一言一行,俱暴君所為,有何資格,統領自由民族?

我等並非未曾念及英國弟兄;也曾多次警告其立法機關,幸勿延伸無理司法管轄權至我方;提醒英國留意我等於此地移民定居情況;訴諸其天生公義雅量,懇請乃念同種同宗,棄絕掠奪行為,以免破壞雙方關係往來。然而,英方對公義及血緣呼聲充耳不聞。我等唯有宣告與之分離(註二十三),從此對英猶如對其他民族:戰時當敵人,平時當朋友。

第三部份:宣誓獨立

因此,我等美利堅合眾國代表,於此大陸會議聚首一堂,以一眾殖民地公民名義,經其授權,向至尊裁判,申訴吾人正直意圖,同時鄭重宣佈:我合眾殖民地,名正言順成為獨立自由國家,茲解除對英國王室一切效忠義務,理所當然,與大不列顛王國,完全斷絕一切政治羈絆。獨立自由國家,一切可為之事,舉凡宣戰媾和,結盟通商,我等邦國,皆有十分權力,無異萬邦。吾人為守此約,堅定信靠皇天庇佑,彼此發誓,甘願押上身家性命財產(註二十四),與共神聖名聲。

譯註

(註一)《獨立宣言》中State,皆國家之意,而無州意,事關州乃係地方性行政區劃,並非國家。《獨立宣言》宣佈這些殖民地從此成為自由、獨立國家。因此,these States應譯為各國或各邦;考慮到《獨立宣言》發表次年(一七七七年十一月)大陸會議通過《邦聯條款》,these States則以譯成各邦為合。(參李道揆,二零零一)

(註二)孫中山一九一六年觀錢塘江大潮後題詞:「世界潮流,浩浩蕩蕩,順之則昌,逆之則亡」。

(註三)原文為Nature’s God,直譯自然神明,此組合中文少見,有的怪,譯成上帝或皇天均可,中文的天有英文自然之意,所謂天然也。皇天為對天的尊稱。書經.大禹謨:「皇天眷命,奄有四海,為天下君。」三國演義.第四回:「董賊逼我母子,皇天不佑!汝等助惡,必當滅族!」皇天上帝一詞源於古老華夏文明,總稱昊天上帝、皇天上帝、蒼天、青天、老天爺的。《詩經•小雅/大雅》明明上天,照臨下地、皇哉上帝,臨下有赫、蕩蕩上帝,下民之闢。《通典•禮典》所謂昊天上帝者,蓋元氣廣大則稱昊天,遠視蒼蒼即稱蒼天,人之所尊,莫過於帝,託之於天,故稱上帝。《禮記•盛德》夫民思其德,心稱其人,朝夕祝之,升聞於皇天,上帝歆焉,故永其世而豐其年。上帝在中文的本意泛指主宰天地宇宙的神,自古就在中文出現。天主教神父利瑪竇明朝至中國,為便傳教,譯God為中文本有的上帝。

(註四)原文all men are created equal,歷來譯文多作「人人生而平等」。然而,人人出生時,長相美醜,身體強弱,天資慧愚,家庭貧富均有別,並非生來就平等。所謂平等乃指在創造世界的上帝眼中,人人平等,生命包含不可剝奪的自由、價值和尊嚴,概由天賦(參范學德,二零零六)。

(註五)漢語大詞典:造物:創造萬物的神。 《莊子•大宗師》:「偉哉,夫造物者將以予為此拘拘也。」唐柳宗元《始得西山宴遊記》:「洋洋乎與造物者遊,而不知其所窮。」唐韓愈《南山詩》:「還疑造物意,固護蓄精佑。」宋蘇軾《答程天侔書》之一:「尚有此身,付與造物者,聽其運轉,流行坎止,無不可者。」清袁枚《新齊諧•鏡山寺僧》:「心念父忠誠謹厚,何造物者乃不與之後耶。」葉聖陶《窮愁》:「造物棄我,竟如此耶?」黃霑(一九八零)詞〈命運〉陪著你一生奮鬥,偏不許造物弄人。

(註六)據陶傑(二零一二),「人民」一詞,經中共六、七十來濫用,其形象經變得「猥瑣、下賤、貪婪,而且非常自私醜陋」。余故譯people公民,公民社會源於古希臘,公民即自由人,藉公開選舉,擁有政治權力,亦係納稅人,而政府與公民的關係基於法律,亦為契約關係。倘無政治權利,人即淪為禽畜,或被奴役之工具。

(註七)美國憲法第二修正案規定國民有權持槍,即令國民有能力對抗可能出現的暴政。

(註八)「英王拒絕批准對公眾極其有益而必須之法律…拒絕批准照顧大區公民之其他法例,除非區內公民肯放棄立法局代表權,而代表權對吾民無比珍貴,唯暴君畏之懼之。」 中國無限期押後香港人雙普選,除非香港人接受有篩選的選舉,而真普選對香港人好珍貴,只有獨裁中國方畏之懼之。 香港九七前,英治時代,立法機關亦稱立法局,九七後方改稱立法會。
(註九)「英王…一再解散各邦眾議院」香港政府一六年DQ六位民選立法會議員,前後又一再因立法會參選人的政治立場而取消其資格。

(註十)「控制法官職位俸祿,迫使法官唯命是從。」香港法官須宣誓效忠中華人民共和國香港特別行政區,終審法院所有法官須由行政長官任命,徵得立法會同意,並報全國人大常委會。
香港法官為保職位,博取升級,對異見示威人士,定罪率偏高,判刑極重,例如梁頌恆、游蕙禎一六年身為議員,在立法會內,前往開會地點,竟然被控非法集結,而罪名成立,判監四個月。有如港獨派青年領袖梁天琦,因涉及一六年初二旺角警民衝突,而被控暴動,罪名成立,判監六年。不同案但同一事件被告人七十歲陳和祥,暴動罪名成立,被判三年零五個月徒刑。有些暴動案法官判案,涉嫌違反聯合國人權宣言無罪推定原則,譬如楊家倫案,法官特別留意到被告哨牙及眼神與相片犯案者相似,即當被告為相中人。
(註十一) 「太平時期,未經我立法局同意,於各邦駐紮常備軍。」根據基本法,中國有權在港駐軍,但除非香港特別行政區政府主動要求救災,否則解放軍不得著制服周圍行。然而,最近解放軍軍機降落香港赤鱲角機場,十月中駐港部隊又未經申請,出動清理颱風過後的塌樹及垃圾。

(註十二)「置吾人於憲法以外司法管轄範圍,不符我方法律」。二零一八年七月十四號,中聯辦法律部長王振民:「凡是基本法沒有規定的問題,憲法的有關規定自動適用於香港。」此話違反中英聯合聲明及基本法規定的一國兩制。根據基本法第十八條,除了基本法附件三列明的全國法律,其他全國法律不會在香港實施。

(註十三)中華人民共和國不滿彭定康九五年政改方案,單方面欽點成立香港臨時立法會,不准九七前香港立法局議員直接過渡,任期由九七年一月廿五日至九八年六月三十日,期間通過不少惡法,例如重新制訂一些經已廢除條文,包括改遊行集會通知制度為「不反對通知書」制度;又如廢除工人集體談判權。

(註十四)「強行徵稅」。香港特區政府,奉中國政府之命,以大白象工程掠奪香港儲備,下下成千億,甚至萬億,而且完成效率奇低,幾乎毫無必要,尚惡劣過苛捐重稅,例如:萬億港元東大嶼人工島願景、投資經常蝕本一帶一路計劃、西九高鐵、港珠澳大橋、機場第三條跑道。 

(註十五)「許多案件,剝奪吾民由陪審團陪審之權利」雨傘革命及魚蛋革命後,無陪審團的區域法院定罪率,遠高於有陪審團的高等法院,區域法院無陪審團多年來備受法律界評擊。
(註十六)「以莫須有罪名,押吾民往海外受審」二零一五年,出版中共政治禁書的銅鑼灣書店老闆,李波、桂民海等人,被中國官方人員跨境擄至中國幽禁。

(註十七)「鄰省…專制政府,擴大疆域,於此處…引入…極權統治」「取消我憲章,廢除我…法律,根本改變…政府體制」粵港澳大灣區消融香港邊界,要香港融入中國廣東省。西九高鐵一地兩檢,將中國法律引入香港九龍市中心,取代該處香港法律。

(註十八)「終止我立法職能,宣稱事無大小,均有權為我立法。」人大屢次濫用基本法解釋權,例如一六年梁游宣誓案法庭未裁決,全國人大就主動釋法,規定議員宣誓無效後,不得重新宣誓,而且釋法還有追溯力,結果梁游兩位民選議員被法庭褫奪議員席位。又如零四年將政改程序,由三部曲改為五部曲,無限期押後香港雙普選。一七年習近平主席來港,監督香港特首宣誓就職,嚴重警告香港人,勿觸港獨紅線,壓抑香港言論自由。
(註十九) 「派…官員…食我民脂民膏…掠奪我海域,蹂躪沿岸」。香港特首林鄭月娥明日大嶼計劃,要動用香港庫房一萬億港元,在交椅洲隔籬,起千七頃人工島,不少專家,例如前天文台長林超英,都認為有關人工島造價不合理,而且一遇颱風,岌岌可危。
(註二十)「殺我同胞」。一四年雨傘革命及一六年魚蛋革命後,香港政治犯達百幾人。
(註二十一)中原史上大漢主義統治集團稱四周未開化、半開化地區為化外之地,當地的居民亦稱番,對農業社會形成後的臺灣居民稱呼有兩種,住在山中的叫生番;住在平地者叫熟番。滿清繼承此立場,當時清廷有規定:擅入番界者斬。清廷從鄭氏集團手中奪取臺灣政權後,生番亦漸化為熟番,以習漢人衣冠禮貌為榮。但當地少數民族生活狀況並無改善。《清史稿•穆宗紀二》日本兵船抵台灣登岸,與生番尋釁。《儒林外史》過了半年,松藩衛邊外生番與內地民人互市,因買賣不公,彼此吵鬧起來。二十年目睹之怪現狀.第四十七回:「他說要開拓生番的地方,到底不知開拓了多少?清 魏源《聖武記》卷十一惟涼山內生番……多不火食。

(註二十二)「教唆無情印第安蠻夷,對付我…居民」中共來港新殖民,有錢的就炒高樓價,無錢的就搶公屋,令本土基層無樓容身。這些新殖民似乎享有治外特權,在公眾場所大小便喧嘩而不遭檢控,甚至連中國遊客都可在法庭影相而毋須坐監交罸款。這些新殖民不尊重香港本土風俗價值觀。殺人犯施君龍二千年放火燒死入境處職員,一一年獲中國批准來港定居,曾公然鬧香港民主自由抗爭者係狗。又有些新殖民長期在旺角、尖沙咀,狂跳大媽舞,品味惡俗,騷擾公共安寧。港府為配合中國殖民香港,以及遷就新殖民,乃威迫利誘香港學校普教中,剝奪港人受母語教育人權。

(註二十三)美國獨立戰爭初期,北美十三英屬殖民地,本來無意要求完全脫離英國殖民統治,只要求更多自治,然而,當時英政府及王室認定這些要求為叛亂,雙方先始爆發戰爭。「我等……多次…提醒英國…懇請乃念同宗同種,棄絕掠奪行為…然而,英方對公義及血緣呼聲充耳不聞。我等唯有宣告與之分離」。
香港人本來只要求一國兩制,好似英治時期生活方式不變,但九七後中國博命侵蝕香港自治自由:肆意人大釋法;以金融地產霸權將香港樓價屋租推致全球首位,令貧無立錐之地;以公安惡法,濫捕濫告,重判政治異見人士;以普教中消滅香港粵語文化;夾硬取消民選議員資格;全面滲透香港各界,包括教育界、新聞界、政界、商界、宗教界;以紅線論壓抑香港言論結社新聞自由;以大白象工程,掠奪香港儲備;以跨境計劃模糊廣東邊界;剝奪香港雙普選權利;如此方令不少香港青年產生與中國切割的念頭。

(註二十四)漢典:身家(一) 自身、家庭合稱 (二) 家庭出身 (三) 家產。國語辭典:身家:(一) 出身門第。醒世恆言:「瑞虹舉目看那人面貌魁梧,服飾齊整,見眾人稱他老爹,料必是個有身家的。」(二) 自身及家庭。明•湯顯祖-〈達奚司空立南海王廟門外〉:身家隔胡漢,孤生長此畢。《儒林外史》你們伏侍太老爺,凡事不可壞了太老爺清名,也要各人保著自己的身家性命。《老殘遊記》:「但是一件要緊的事;只是我捨不得這十幾萬百姓現在的身家!」「身家性命財產」強調代價重大,當今普通話少用,香港粵語保留古文雅言。

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
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.

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 suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, 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 Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing 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 people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent 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 among us:

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 world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

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 example 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 declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

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 scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally 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 Indian Savages 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. 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 British 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.

Photo credit: Writing the Declaration of Independence, 1776 by jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1863-1930, artist. 1932.


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