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them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature, to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. 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 connexions and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. 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.
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; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the Bri
tish crown, and that all political connexion between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. 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.
Signed by order and in behalf of the
JOHN HANCOCK, President.
CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary.
Rhode Island, &c.
Rob't. Treat Paine,
Wm. Floyd, Phil. Livingston,
Jno. Witherspoon, Fran's. Hopkinson,
Maryland. Samuel Chase, Wm. Paca,
Charles Carroll, of
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Th. Jefferson,
Wm. Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn.
South Carolina. Edward Rutledge, Thos. Heyward, Jun'r. Thomas Lynch, Jun'r. Arthur Middleton.
Lyman Hall, Geo. Walton.
Although the thirteen colonies all united in sending delegates to Congress, and in publishing to the world the declaration that they were free and independent states, there was as yet no definite, regularly formed union between them. There was no written instrument defining the powers and objects of a united government, and pledging the faith of the states for its main
On the 11th of June, previous to the declaration, Congress undertook to prepare such an instrument. It was completed and approved by them on the 15th of November, 1777. It was then sent to the legislatures of the states for their ratification. Some of them promptly gave it their assent. Others withheld theirs for some. time. On the first of March, 1781, by the assent of Maryland, it was finally ratified by all the thirteen states.
The interests of thirteen states whose particular circumstances must all be regarded, it was no easy matter to reconcile. Thus it will be observed that Congress was more than a year in agreeing upon the ar
ticles of union, and that it was more than three years before they received the sanction of all the states. Probably, nothing but a sense of common and impending danger would have been sufficient to induce the states to agree to a union. This it was which persuaded them to sacrifice local and selfish interests and to unite themselves together for the general good. By observing the great difficulties attending the formation of our union, the citizens of all the different states ought to learn a lesson of conciliation and friendship, and to make a sacrifice of private interests to the great object of promoting the common welfare that what has cost so much in arriving at the perfection which it now possesses, may never be destroyed.
The instrument above alluded to, was termed, Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The government of the United States, if government, that can be called which depended on the will of thirteen independent, distinct state governments, was administered under the authority granted by these articles for the pe