Declaration of Independence Summary

38-year-old King George III ruled the largest empire that planet earth had ever seen.

The Declaration of Independence, signed JULY 4, 1776, listed 27 reasons why Americans declared their independence from the King:

… He has made judges dependent on his will alone …

… 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 …

… To subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution …

… For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us …

… For imposing taxes on us without our consent …

… For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of trial by jury …

… For … establishing … an arbitrary government …

… For … altering fundamentally the forms of our governments …

… 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 …

… 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.”

33-year-old Thomas Jefferson’s original rough draft of the Declaration contained a line condemning slavery, as the King of England was part owner of the Royal African Company:

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself … in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither …

… suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold.”

Unfortunately, a few delegates from southern states objected to this line.

Since everyone was in a panic as the British were invading New York and the city was in flames, and since the Declaration needed to pass unanimously, the line in Jefferson’s original draft condemning slavery was tragically set aside.

John Hancock, the 39-year-old President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration first, reportedly saying “the price on my head has just doubled.”

Next to sign was Secretary, Charles Thomson, age 47.

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