Rough Draft of the
Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence went through several revisions before it was published in the form that we know it today. After Thomas Jefferson wrote his original draft, he gave it to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin for their revision. The three of them, plus Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman, made up the Committee of Five, that was charged with writing the Declaration of Independence. After Franklin and Adams made their revisions, the document was presented to Congress. This version has come to be known as the "Rough Draft" of the Declaration, which you can read below.

When Congress received the Rough Draft, they debated it and made their own amendments, most notably leaving out a section that condemned the British public for allowing their government to treat their American brothers in such a tyrannical fashion and a section that would have abolished slavery.

Rough Draft Page 1

Click for Enlarged  Page 1  Page 2   Page 3   Page 4

You can read Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence here, and you can read the final version of the Declaration of Independence here. You can also read about how Thomas Jefferson created the Declaration of Independence. We also have an interesting list of Thomas Jefferson Facts. Or, you can read some Thomas Jefferson Quotes, or John Adams Quotes here.

*Note that in the text of the Rough Draft below, the blue letters are the additions put in by Mr. Franklin and Mr. Adams. The words with lines through them are the words deleted by them.*

Text of the Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence


When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a ^
dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,
people to ^ advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto
and to separate and equal
^remained, & to assume among the powers of the earth the ^ equal and

station to which the laws of nature and of nature's god

entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires
the separation
that they should declare the causes which impel them to ^ change.
We hold these truths to be ^ sacred & undeniable; that all Men
they are endowed by their creator with
are created equal & independent; that ^ from that equal creation they
equal rights, some of which are rights; that these
derive in rights inherent & inalienable ^ among ^ which are the

preservation of
life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness;
that to secure these ^ ends, governments are instituted among men,

deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that

whenever any form of government shall becomes destructive of these

ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, & to

institute new government, laying it's foundation on such principles,

& organizing it's powers in such form, as to them shall seem most

likely to effect their safety & happiness. Prudence indeed will

dictate that governments long established should not be changed for

light & transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown

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 & usurpations pursuing

invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject reduce them
under absolute Despotism
^ To arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off

such government, & to provide new guards for their future security

such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; & such is now

the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of
the king of Great Britain
government. The History of ^ his the present ^ majesty is a history of
appears no solitary fact
repeated injuries & usurpations, among which ^no one fact stands single
but all
and solitary to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, ^ all of which

have in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over

these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world,

for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome & necessary for

the public good:

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate &

pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation

till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended,

He has neglected utterly 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
in the Legislature
representation, ^ a right inestimable to them, & formidable to tyrants


He has called together legislative bodies in places unusual,

uncomfortable & distant from the depository of their public records

for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his


He has dissolved Representative houses repeatedly & continually, for

opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the Rights of the People.
time after such dissolutions
He has dissolved, He has refused for a long ^ space of 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

meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, &

convulsions within:

He has endeavored 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;

& raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands:

He has suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in
some of these ^ colonies, refusing his assent to laws for

establishing judiciary powers:

He has made our judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure
the and payment
of their offices, and ^ amount ^ of their Salaries:

He has erected a multitude of new offices by a self-assumed power,

& sent hither swarms of new officers to harass our people and eat

out their substance.
without our consent
He has kept among us in times of peace ^ standing armies,
without ^ our consent. of our legislatures
& ships of war^:

He has affected to render the military independent of, & superior

to the civil power:

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign

to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his
acts of
assent to their ^ pretended acts of legislation,

For quartering large bodies of Armed Troops among us;

For protecting them, by a mock-trial from punishment for any
murders ^ 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 of the benefits 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 neighboring province,

establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging it's

boundaries so as to render it at once an example & fit instrument

For introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies states;
abolishing our most ^ important laws
For taking away our charters, ^ & altering fundimentally the forms of

our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves

invested with power to legislate for us in all cases


He has abdicated government here, withdrawing his governors,

& declaring us out of his allegiance & protection:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns,

& destroyed the lives of our people:

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries

to compleat the works of death, desolation & tyranny, already begun

with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy unworthy the head of a

civilized nation:

He has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the

merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare in an

undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, & conditions of


He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow-citizens,

with the allurements of forfeiture & confiscation of our property:
taken captives
He has constrained others, ^ falling into his hands, on the high

seas to bear arms against their country, & to destroy & be

destroyed by their brethren whom they love, to become the

executioners of their friends & brethren, or to fall themselves

by their hands.

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating

it's most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of

a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying

them to slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable

death in their transportations thither. This piratical warfare,

the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian

king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN

should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for

suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain
determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold
this execrable commerce ^ and that this assemblage of horrors might

want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very

people to rise in arms against us, and to purchase that liberty

of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom

he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes which he

urges them to commit against the lives of another.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for

redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have
been answered ^ 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 people who mean to be free. future

ages will scarce belive that the hardiness of one man, adventured
to ^
lay a foundation so broad & undistinguished for tyranny
within the short compass of twelve years only, ^
on so many acts

of tyrany without a mask, over a people fostered & fixed in
principles of ^ liberty.

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 a jurisdiction over these our states. we

have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration &

settlement here, no one of which could warrent so strange a

pretention: that these were effected at the expence of our own

blood & treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of

Great Britain: that in constituting indeed our several forms

of government, we had adopted one common king, thereby laying a

foundation for perpetual league & amity with them: but that

submission to their parliament was no part of our constitution,

nor ever in idea if history may be credited: and we appealed to

their native justice and magnanimity as well as the ties of our

common kindred to disavow these usurpations which were likely to
connection &
interrupt our ^ correspondence. They too have been deaf to the

voice of justice & of consanguinity & when occations have been

given them, by the regular course of their laws, of removing from

their councils the disturbers of our harmony, they have by their

free election re-established them in power. At this very time too

they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over not only

soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch & foreign mercinaries to
destroy us
invade & ^
deluge us in blood. These facts have given the last stab

to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us to renounce

forever these unfeeling bretheren. We must endeavor to forget our

former love for them, and to hold them, as we hold the rest of

mankind, enemies in war, in peace, friends. We might have been a

free & a great people together; but a communication of grandeur &

of freedom it seems is below their dignity, be it so, since they
& to glory
will have it: the road to glory & happiness ^ is open to us too;
apart from them
we will climb it ^ in a separatly state, and acquiesce in the
de eternal separation!
necessity which pro^nounces our ^ everlasting adieu!

We therefore the representatives of the United States of

America in General Congress assembled, do, in the name & by the

authority of the good people of these states, reject and

renounce all allegiance & subjection to the kings of Great Britain

& all others who may hereafter claim, by through or under them;

we utterly dissolve
& break off all political connection which
may have heretofore ^ subsisted between us & the people or parliament

of Great Britain; and do finally we do assert and declare these

colonies to be free and independent states, and that as free &
independent states they shall hereafter have ^ power to levy war,

conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, & do all

other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each

other our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred honor.

Revolutionary War and Beyond Home

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