"The Declaration of Independence" (1776)

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776 by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, with a preamble by John Adams and editing by Benjamin Franklin and other members of Congress, it outlines the offenses of King George III to justify the vote for independence that had taken place two days earlier. With the colonies already one year into a war, the Declaration closed the door on reconciliation with Great Britain and paved the way for the creation of the United States of America. Read the full text here.
definitions & notes only words
  1. dissolve
    bring the association of to an end or cause to break up
    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.
  2. unalienable
    incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another
    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.
  3. abolish
    do away with
    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.
  4. transient
    lasting a very short time
    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes
  5. usurpation
    wrongfully seizing and holding by force
    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.
  6. sufferance
    patient endurance especially of pain or distress
    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.
  7. tyranny
    government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator
    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.
  8. assent
    agreement with a statement or proposal to do something
    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  9. relinquish
    part with a possession or right
    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.
  10. compliance
    the act of submitting, usually surrendering power to another
    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.
  11. endeavor
    attempt by employing effort
    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States
  12. obstruct
    hinder or prevent the progress or accomplishment of
    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
  13. harass
    annoy continually or chronically
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.
  14. render
    cause to become
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
  15. jurisdiction
    the right and power to interpret and apply the law
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws
  16. impose
    charge and collect payment
    For imposing taxes on us without our Consent
  17. deprive
    keep from having, keeping, or obtaining
    For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury
  18. arbitrary
    based on or subject to individual discretion or preference
    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
  19. abdicate
    give up, such as power, as of monarchs and emperors
    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  20. ravage
    make a pillaging or destructive raid on, as in wartime
    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  21. desolation
    an event that results in total destruction
    He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny...
  22. perfidy
    betrayal of a trust
    already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.
  23. redress
    act of correcting an error or a fault or an evil
    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.
  24. unwarrantable
    incapable of being justified or explained
    We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
  25. magnanimity
    nobility and generosity of spirit
    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.
  26. consanguinity
    relation by blood
    They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.
  27. acquiesce
    agree or express agreement
    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.
  28. rectitude
    righteousness as a consequence of being honorable and honest
    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
  29. absolve
    excuse or free from blame
    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
  30. providence
    a manifestation of God's foresightful care for his creatures
    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.

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