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INTRODUCTION TO THE
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
In the Congress of 1776, the great question of American Liberty came first to be discussed. On the 8th of May, Mr. Adams offered a resolution, that the Colonies should adopt governments adequate to the wants of the Country, and independent of Great Britain. The success of this resolution on the 15th was considered as decisive of the question of allegiance to any foreign power. On the 7th of June, Richard Henry Lee, seconded by Mr. Adams, moved in Congress the ever-memorable resolution of American Independence. The debate continued until the 10th, when the consideration of the resolution was postponed until the 1st of July. The next day, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and R. R. Livingston, were appointed to prepare a draught of a Declaration of Independence. The two gentlemen first named on this Committee having been deputed a sub-Committee to draw up a Declaration, at the des.re of Mr. Adams it was prepared by Mr. Jufterson.
On the 1st of July, the question on the resolution was again resumed, and unanimously agreed to on the second. Mr. Jefferson has told us that “the Colossus of that Congre: s—the great pillar of support to the De. claration of Independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the House, was John Adams.
In that moment of darkness, of terror, and of consternation, when the election was to be made between an at. tempt at Liberty and Independence on the one hand, and defeat, subjugation, and death on the other, the courage of Adams, in the true spirit of heroism, rose in proportion to the dangers which pressed around him; and he poured forth that only genuine eloquence, the eloquence of the soul, which, in the language of Mr. Jefferson, 'moved his hearers from their seats.' The objections of his adversaries were seen no longer bis in a state of wreck; floating in broken fragments on the billows of the storm, and over rocks, over breakers and amid ingulphing whirlpools, that every where surrounded him, he brought the gallant ship of the Nation safe into port.""*
(* Wirt. The Declaration already prepared was taken into consideration on the 4th of July, 1776-a day never to be forgotten-when it received the sanction of the whole Congress.
When in the course of human events, itly, all experience hath shown, that mankind becomes necessary for one people to dissolve are more disposed to suffer, while evils are the political bands which have connected sufferable, than to right themselves by abolthem with another, and to assume, among the ishing the forms to which they are accustomed. powers of the earth, the separate and equal sta- But, when a long train of abuses and usurpation to which the laws of nature and of nature's tions, pursuing invariably the same object, evin
God entitle them, a decent respect for the ces a design to reduce them under absolute opinions of mankind requires that they should despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to
declare the causes which impel them to the throw off such government, and to provide separation.
new guards for their future security. Such We hold these truths to be self-evident, that has been the patient sufferance of these Coloall men are created equal; that they are endow. nies, and such is now the necessity which ed by their Creator with certain unalienable constrains them to alter their former systems
rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and of government. The history of the present the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these King of Great Britain, is a history of repeated rights, governments are instituted among men, injuries and usurpations, all having, in direct deriving their just powers from the consent of object, the establishment of an absolute tyranny the governed ; that, whenever any form of gov- over these States. To prove this, let facts be ernment becomes destructive of these ends, it submitted to a candid world: is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, He has refused his assent to laws the most and to institute a new government, laying its wholesome and necessary for the public good. foundation on such principles, and organizing He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws its powers in such form, as to them shall seem of immediate and pressing importance, unless most likely to effect their safety and happiness. suspended in their operation till his assent Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that govern- should be obtained; and, when so suspended. ments long established, should not be changed he has utterly neglected to attend to them. for light and transient causes; and, according. He has refused to pass other laws for the
accommodation of large districts of people, un, most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally less those people would relinquish the right of the forms of our governinents; representation in the legislature; a right inesti-, For suspending our own legislatures, and mable to them, and formidable to tyrants only. declaring themselves invested with power to
He has called together legislative bodies at legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from
He has abdicated government here, by de. the depository of their public records, for the claring us out of his protection, and waging sole purpose of fatiguing thein into compliance war against us. with his measures.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our He has dissolved representative houses re- lives of our people.
coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the peatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness,
He is, at this time, transporting large armies his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused, for a long time after such dis of foreign mercenaries to complete the work solutions, to cause others to be elected; where of death, desolation, and tyranny, already beby the legislative powers, incapable of annili-gun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy lition, have returneủ to the people at large for scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, their exercise ; the State remaining, in the
and totally unworthy the head of a civilized
nation. mean time, exposed to all the dangers of inva
He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken sion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population captive on the high seas, to bear arns against of these States; for that purpose, obstructing their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves
their country, to become the executioners of the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refus by their hand. ing to pass others to encourage their migra. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst tion hither, and raising the conditions of new
us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabiappropriations of lands.
tants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for estab.savages, whose known role of warfare is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, lishing judiciary powers. He his made judges dependent on his will and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions, we have alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the
petitioned for redress in the most humble terms. amount and payment of their salaries.
He hus erected a multitude of new offices, Our repeated petitions have been answered and sent hither swarms of officers to harass only by repeated injury. A prince, whose
character is thus marked by every act which our people, and eat out their substance.
may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a He his kept among us, in time of peace,
free people. standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to He has affected to render the military inde-our Briti h brethren. We have warned them, dent of, and superior to, the civil
from time to time, of attempts by their legislapen
power. He has combined, with others, to subject us ture, to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction to a juris diction foreign to our constitution and over us. We have reminded them of the cirunacknowledged by our laws; giving his as- cumstances of our emigration and settlement sent to their acts of pretended legislation:
here. We have appealed to their native justice For quartering large bodies of armed troops and magnanimity, and we have conjured them,
by the ties of our common kindred, to disaamong us;
For protecting them, by a mock trial, from vow these usurpations, which would inevitapunishment, for any murders which they should bly interrupt our connexions and corresponcommit on the inhabitants of these States; dence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice
For cutting off our trade with all parts of of justice and of consanguinity. We must, the world ;
therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which deFor imposing taxes on us without our connounces our separation, and hold them, as we sent;
hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war,
in For depriving us, in many cases, of the ben- peace
friends. efits of trial by jury ;
We, therefore, the representatives of the UniFor transporting us beyond the seas to be ted States of America, in General Congress tried for pretended offences;
assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge For abolishing the free system of English of the World for the rectitude of our intenlaws in a neighboring Province, establishing tions, do, in the name, and by the authority, of cherein an arbitrary government, and enlarging the good people of these Colonies, folennly its boundaries, so as to render it at once an ex-publish and declare, That these United Colample and 'fit instrument for introducing the onies are, and of right ought to be, FREE same absolute rule into these Colonies; AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they
For taking away our charters, abolishing our are absolved from all allegiance to the British
crown, and that all political connexion between acts and things which independent States
Free and Independent States, they have fullstection of Divine Providence, we mutually
Harrison, William Whipple,
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee,
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll, of Car.
Richard Henry Lee, George Walton.
We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America :
presentative; and until such enumeration shall be SECTION 1.-Legislative Powers.
mude, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled
to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Islund 1. All Legislntive Powers lerein granted shall be and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall Nero York six, New-Jersry four, Pennsylvania consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten,
SECTION 11.- House of Representativcs. .Virrin Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Geur. 1. The House of Representatives shall be composed
4. When vacancies happen in the representation of members chosen every second year by the people from any State, the Executive authority thereof shall of the several Sules, uni the Electors in ench State issue writs of election. shull have the qualifications requis te for Electors of
5. The House «if Representatives shall choose their the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.
Speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole Quulification of Nemburs-Apportionment. power of impeachinent. 2. No person shll be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and
SECTION 111.-Senate. been seven yeurs r citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that 1. The Senate of the United State shall he composed Stute in which he shall be chosen.
of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legis. 3. Representatives and direct taxes shall be appor. lature thereof, for six years; and euch Senutur shuil tioned oniong the several Stutes which may be inclu have one wote. ded within this Union, accudzing to their respective 2. Immediately after they shall be assembled in connumbers, which shail be determined by adding to the sequenre of the tirst Election, they shall be divi. whole pumber of free persons, including those beund des as equally us piny be into three cinsses The stats to service for a tern of verirs, and excluding Indians of the Senators of the first class shall be vicated ni the not fixed, three.fiftlis of all other persons. The actul expiration of the second enr, of ike serond class ut enumeration shall be mnde within three years after the the expirntion of the fourth year, and of the third cin: first vieeting of the Congress of the United States, and at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third within every subseq. ent term of ten years, in such may be chosen every second year; and il vacancies manner as they shall by law direct. The number of happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty of the Legislature of any Stale, the Executive there. thus.ind, but euch Stale shall have at least one Re. 'of' nay muke lemporary appointments, until the next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such | Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it be. vacancies.
come a law, be presented to the President of the Uni. 3. No person shall be n Senator who shall not have ted States; it he approve he shall sign it, but if not, lie altuined to the age of thirty years, and been nine shall return it, with his ohjections, to that House in years a citizen of the United States, and who shall which it shall have originated, who shall enter the ob. not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for jections at large on their journal, ard proceed to recon. which he shall be closen.
sider it. If, after such recons derntion, iwo-thirds of 4. The VicePresident of the United States shall that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, he President of the senate. but shall have no vote un. together with the olejections, to the other House, by less they be equidly divided.
which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approv. 5. The Senate shall chose their own own officers, el by two-thirds of that House, it shall become a law, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be Vice President, or when he shall exercise the oflice of determined by yous and nays, and the names of the President of the Uniied Stutes.
persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered 6. The Senate shall have the sole power to try all on the journal of each flouse respectively. If any bill impeachments; when sitting for that purpose, they shall not be returned hy the President within ten days shall be on onth or affirmation. When the President (Sundays excepted) after it shall huve been presented of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shul to him, the same shall be a law, in like ionnner s if he preside ; and no person shall be convicted without had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjourn. the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present. ment prevent its return, in which case it shall not
7. Judginent in cases of imperchment shall not ex. be a law. tend rarther than to removal from office, und disqua- 3. Every order, resolution or vote, to which the con. lification to bed and enjoy any office of honor, t'ust curronce of the Senate nnd House of Representatives
or profit under the United States; but the party con may be necessary. (except on a question of adjourn. Victed shall nevertheless be liable and subject to in ment.) shall be presented to the Pres dent of the Uni. dictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according ted States; and before the same shall take effect, shall to law.
be approved by him, or being disapproved by him,
shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Senate and SECTION IV.--Election of Members. House of Representatives, according to the rules and 1. The times, places and manner of holding Elec- limitations prescribed in the case of a bill. tions for Senatsirs und Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but
SECTION VIII.--Powers of Congress. the Congress may at any time by law make or 'alter 1. The Congress shall have power to lay and colsuch regulations, except as to the places of choosing lect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the Senators,
debts and provide for the common defence and general 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every welfare of the United States : but all cut es, imposts year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United in December, unless they shall by law appoint u dit.
States. ferent day.
2. To borrow money on the credit of the United
3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations nnd 1. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, among the several States, and with the Indian tribes: re urns and qualifications of its own members, and a
4. To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies business: but a smaller number may adjturn from day throughout the United States : to day, und may be authorized to compel the attend. 5. To coin money, regulate the vnlue thereof, and ance of absent members, in such mamer, and under of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and such penalties, as each House may provide.
measures; 2. Each House may determine the rules of its pro- 6 To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting ceedings, punish its meinbers for disorderly behavior, the securities and current coin of the United States; and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a mem.
7. To establish post offices and post roads ; ber.
8. To promote the progress of science and useful 3. Ench House shall keep a journal of its proceed- arts, by securing for limited times to authors and 'n. ings, and from time to tiine publish the same, except ventors the exclusive right to their respective writings such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy:
and discoveries ; and the yeas anu nays of the members of either House 9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme on any question shall, at the desire of one-fifth of those Court; present, be entered on the journal.
10. 'l'o define and punish pirncies and felonies com. 4. Neither House, during the session of Congress, mitted on the high seas, and offences aguinst the law shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn
for offnations ; inore than three days, nor is any other place than that 11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and re. in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
prisal, and make rules concerning captures on land
and water;. SECTION VI.-Compensation, Privileges, &c.
12. To raise and support armies, but no appropria. 1. The Senators and Representatives shall receive tion of money to that use shall be for a longer term a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by than two years; law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. 13. To prvide and maintain a navy: They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and 14. To make rules for the government and regulation breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during of the lacd and naval forces; their attendance at the session of their respective ló. To prov de fur calling forth the militia to exe. Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; cute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and 10 for any speech or debate in either House, they repel invasions : shall not he questioned in any other place.
16. To provide for organizing, arming and disciplin. 2. No Senntor or Representative stall, during the ing the militin, and for govern ng such part of them time for which he was elected, be appointed to any as may be employed in the service of the Un ted States, civil office under the authority of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the appointment of which shall have been created or the emoluments the officers and the authority of training the militia whereof shall have been increased during such time; according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; und no person holding any office under the United 17. To exercise exclus ve legislation in ail cases Stntes shall be a member of either House during his whatsoevor, over such district (nat exceed ng ten continuance in office.
miles square) as may, hy cession of part cular States SECTION VII.--Bills and Resolutions, &e.
and the acceptance by Congress, become the sent of
the government of the United Sintes, and to exercise 1. All bills for raising revenue shnll originate in like authority over all places nurchased by the con. the House of Representatives: but the Senate may sent of the Legislature of the State in which the same propose, or concur with amendments, as on other bills. shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals,
2. Every bill which shall have passed the House of dock yards, and other needful build ngs:-And,
18. To make all laws which shall be necessary and ed, to the seat of the government of the United States, proper for carrying into execution the foregoing pow. fdirected to the President of the Senate ; the President ers, und all powers vested by this Constitution in the of the Senate shall, in the presence of the senate and government of the United States, or in any department House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and or officer thereof.
the votes shall then be counted. The person having SECTION IX.- Prohibitions and Privileges.
the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the
President, if such number be a majority of the whole 1 The migration or importation of such persons as number of Electors appo nted ; and if no person have any of the States now existing shull think proper to such majority, then from the persons having the high. admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior est numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of these to the year one thonsand eight hundred and eight, but voted for as President, the House of Representatives a tax or duty may be imp sed on such importation, not shall choose immediately, by ballut, the President.--exceed ng ten dollars for each person,
But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken 2. The privilege of the writ of Helens Corpus shall by States, the representation from each State having not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or one yote;'a quorum for this purpose shall
consist of a
member or members from two-thirds of the States, and 3. No bill of , ttainder or ex pust facto law shall a major ty of all the States shall be necessary to a be passed.
choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not 4. No copitation, or other direct tax shall be laid, choose a President whenever the right of choice sha! unless in proportion to the census or enumeration devolve upon them, before the fourth dry, of March herein before Jirected to be taken.
next following, then the Vice President shall act as 5. No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported President, as in case of the death or other constitution. from any State.
al disabuty of the President. 6. No preterence shall be given by any regulation 4. The person having the greatest number of votes of cor: merce or revenue to the ports of one State over as Vice Pres dent, shall be the V ce President: f such those of another; nor shall vessels bound to, or from, number be a mujority of the whole number of Electors one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in appointed, and it no persun have a majority, then from another.
the two highest numbers on the list, ihe Senate shall 7. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but choose the Vice President; a quorum for the purpose in consegnence of appropriation made by law; and a shall consist of two thirds of the whole number of regular statement and account of the receipts and Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall expenditures of all public monsey ishall be published be necessary to a cho ce. froin time to time.
5. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the of. 8. No title of nobility shall be granted by the United fice of President, shall be eligible to that of Vice Presi. States; and no person holding any office of profit or dent. trust under them, shull, without the consent of the 6. The Congress may determine the time of choosing
Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or the Electors, and the day, on which they shall give title of any kind whutever, from any king, prince, or their votes, which day shall be the came throughout foreign state.
the United States, SECTION X.-State Restrictions, &c.
7. No person,except a natural born citizen, or a citi.
zen of the Un ted States at the time of the adoption 1. No Sta:e shall enter into any treaty, alliance or of th's Const tut on, shall be elig ble to the othice of confederation; urant letters of marque and reprisal : President; neither shall any person be eligible to ! hat coin rnoney ; emit bulls of credit; make any thing but office who shall not have attained to the age of thirt. gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts ; pass five years, and been fourteen years a resident within any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impair: the United States. ing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of 8. In case of removal of the President from office, or nobility. 2, No State shall, without the consent of the Con powers and dut es of the said office, the same sha) de.
of his death, res: gaution, or inability to discharge the gress, lay any imposts or duties un imports or exports, volve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by except what may be absolutely necessary for execu. ting its inspection laws; and the nett produce of all law provide for the case of removal, death, resig duties and imposts, laid by any State on imports and nation or inability both of the President and Vice Pres.
ident, declaring wha' officer shali then act as Presi. exports, shnll be for
the use of the Treasury of the dent, and such officer shall act accordingly, until United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the disability be removed, or President shall be the revision and control of the Congress.
States or any of them.
10. Before he enters on the execution of his office,
he shall take the following oath or affirmation: SECTION 1.-Election for President.
"I do solemnly swerr, (or afirm,) that I will faith. 1. The Executive power shall be vested in a Presi: fully execute the ottice of President of the United dent of the Unite! Siates of Americu. He shall hold States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, hits office during the term of four years, and, toge. protect and defend the Constitution of the United ther with the Vice President, chosen for the same States." term, be elected as follows: 2. Ench Style shall appoint, in such manner as the
SECTION 11.- Powers of the President. Legislature thereat may direct, a number of Electors, 1. The President shall be commandor-in-chief of equal to the whole number of Senators and Represen- the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the tatives to which the State may be entitled in the C milit a oft several States, when called into the ac. ,
the holding an office of trust or profit under the United opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of States, shall be appointed an Elector.
the Executive d'epartments, Hipon any subject relat ng 3. The Elors shall meet in their respective States to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall and vote by ballot for the Pres dent and Vice President, have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offen. Sone of whom, ut lenst, shall not be un inhabitant of ces against the United States, except in cases of im.
the same Suute with themselves: they shull name in penchment.
blin. heni tes. nt of lite 1 cases)
at of TC se con. syre