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Words from July 4, 1776

On July 4, 1776 the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania State House (what is now known as Independence Hall) approved the Declaration of Independence, severing the colonies to the British Crown. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty.

So as we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day on Friday for the 238th time, let’s go back to the words that continue to guide all of us.

“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 those are life, liberty and 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 destructible of these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it, and institute a new government.”

What followed these words of the Declaration were “facts to be submitted to a candid world,” listing 29 grievances against the British Crown.

“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 of allegiance to the British Crown…

The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 representatives who wrote “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”