The Declaration of Independence in Modern English - A line-by-line translation from Revolutionary-era English to modern English
The US Declaration of Independence is one of the greatest documents written by the human mind and hand. Although many people are awed and inspired by simply reading the text, too many Americans (and citizens of the World) don't understand the older and poetic English used on this most elegant of documents. In an attempt to bring the beauty of the Declaration to everyone (school children, non-Native English speakers, etc.), we have translated it into a modern form of English.
Care has been take to keep two goals in mind:
1. Preserve the original meaning
2. Translate into easy-to-underhand verbiage
The "translation" is sentence-by-sentence and no care is taken to preserve original punctuation, sentence structure, or even sentence amount (sometimes single sentences are broken up into multiple sentences). As state above, the key is to make sure the document is understood well - that the meaning is understood. Of course, our translation can never be as eloquent and as beautiful as the Declaration - it was written with economy of language and true poetic erudition.
1. 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.
When one group or political entity decides to totally eliminate the political ties which connect them with another group or political entity - and to be free and independent as inherently allowed to be by God's natural law - they should explain the underlying causes if they respect what the world thinks.
2. 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.
We believe that the following are self-evident truths:
- all people are created equal in terms of human worth
- God gives every single person certain rights that are always present and can never be taken away or given up - these rights are derived simply from the existence of the individual and nothing else is required
- among these rights are the right to live, the right to be free, and right to pursue your own well being
3. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
We also believe (another self-evident truth) that governments, having power only because of the consent of those that are governed by it, exist to make sure these rights (see above) are protected
4. 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.
We also believe (another self-evident truth) that when a government acts in a way that suppresses these natural rights, the people have a right to change the government or get rid of it entirely and to set up a new one which is designed/created in such a way that will seem most likely to promote their happiness and safety.
5. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn, that mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Being wise we will understand that governments that have been around for a long time shouldn't be changed for small or light reasons. By the same token, human experience has shown that humans are better off tolerating suffering when the suffering is not that great than they are by trying to improve their situations by changing or getting rid of systems or ways of being that have been around for a long time and that they are used to.
6. 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.
However, when many fits of abuse and power grabs clearly show a desire by a government to put/keep a people in an oppressive and intense tyranny, they have both the right and the duty to throw off such a government and to create new systems or institutions to help them live in security and peace.
7. 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.
This is basically what has happened to the colonies - because of this they must change their old systems of government.
8. 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.
The history of the current British King is a history of constant abuses and power grabs that all have attempted to directly contribute to the creation of an absolute tyranny over these states.
9. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
To prove what we are saying, we are presenting our facts to an open world.
10. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
The King of Great Britain has refused to sanction or agree with good laws needed for the good of the public.
11. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has not allowed governors in the Colonies to pass important and pressing laws unless those laws don't go into effect until he himself sanctions them; he has neglected to do anything with such laws that are suspended.
12. 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.
The King of Great Britain has called law-making groups together at far away and uncomfortable places only in order to force compliance by fatiguing law-makers.
13. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has eliminated representative groups often because they opposed strongly the King's invitations on the people's rights.
14. He has refused for a long 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 mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
Additionally, after dissolving representative groups, he had not allowed new ones to be elected. This has caused the law-making powers, which still exist, to return to the people and exposing the Colonies to internal and external dangers.
15. He has endeavoured 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, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
The King has attempted to curtail the population growth in the Colonies by obstructing naturalization laws, refusing to pass new ones in order to encourage migration to the Colonies, and making land appropriations more difficult.
16. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
The King has stood in the way of the administration of justice within the Colonies by refusing to sanction laws that establish judiciary powers.
17. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
The King has made judges depend only on him for their terms and their salaries.
18. He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
The King has created many new political or governmental positions in the Colonies and sent various officers and political personnel to the Colonies to harass us and live off of our production.
19. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
The King has kept standing armies within the Colonies and within our communities without the approval of our representatives - in effect, without our approval.
20. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
The King has attempted to make the military power independent of the power of the people and independent of it.
21. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.
The King has acted in unconstitutional ways (that constituion being the British constitution, a constitution that is unwritten but that is believed to exist within the laws and the norms of the British people nonetheless) - and sanctioned unconstitutional laws that do not qualify as true legislation under our laws and jurisdiction.
22. For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.
For keeping large armies among our people and communities.
23. For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.
For protecting those armies by using fake trials - protecting them from any murder which they might coming on the people of these Colonies.
24. For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.
For not allowing the Colonies to trade with other parts of the world.
25. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.
For taxing us without our consent.
26. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For not giving the people of these Colonies the opportunity to stand on trial by jury.
27. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses.
For shipping us across the Atlantic sea to stand trial for pretended crimes and offenses.
28. For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring 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.
For allowing the Quebec Act to extend the territory of Canada to encroach on the land of the Colonies
29. For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
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