NPR Reads The Declaration Of Independence NPR hosts and reporters read the Declaration of Independence in celebration of the Independence Day holiday.

NPR Reads The Declaration Of Independence

NPR Reads The Declaration Of Independence

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The Declaration of Independence, displayed in a dimly lit hall at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Carol M. Highsmith/Getty Images hide caption

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Carol M. Highsmith/Getty Images

The Declaration of Independence, displayed in a dimly lit hall at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Carol M. Highsmith/Getty Images

Editor's note on July 8, 2022: This story quotes the U.S. Declaration of Independence — a document that contains offensive language about Native Americans, including a racial slur.

On July 4, America will celebrate 244 years since the continental congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

NPR marks the celebration with what has become a Morning Edition tradition: the annual reading of that document. Below is the original text of the Declaration of Independence, alongside photos of the NPR staff members who performed the reading.

Declaration Of Independence

Steve Inskeep

Mike Morgan/NPR
Steve Inskeep
Mike Morgan/NPR

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.

Rachel Martin

Mike Morgan/NPR
Rachel Martin
Mike Morgan/NPR

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.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —

David Greene

Mike Morgan
David Greene, NPR
Mike Morgan

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.

Noel King

Mike Morgan/NPR
Noel King
Mike Morgan/NPR

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 are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Don Gonyea

Doby Photography/NPR
Don Gonyea
Doby Photography/NPR

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.—

Lauren Frayer

Sergey Gershkovich/NPR
Lauren Frayer
Sergey Gershkovich/NPR

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.

Joe Palca

Mike Morgan/NPR
Joe Palca
Mike Morgan/NPR

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. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Audie Cornish

Allison Shelley/NPR
Audie Cornish
Allison Shelley/NPR

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

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.

Shankar Vedantam

Douglas Sonders/NPR
Shankar Vedantam
Douglas Sonders/NPR

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro

Stephen Voss/NPR
Lulu Garcia-Navarro 2017 square
Stephen Voss/NPR

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.

Sylvia Poggioli

Wanyu Zhang/NPR
Sylvia Poggioli
Wanyu Zhang/NPR

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

Frank Langfitt

Langfitt
Steve Barrett

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.

Cheryl Corley

Allison Shelley/NPR
Cheryl Corley
Allison Shelley/NPR

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.

Nina Totenberg

Allison Shelley/NPR
Nina Totenberg
Allison Shelley/NPR

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

Scott Detrow

Stephen Voss/NPR
Headshot of Scott Detrow, 2018
Stephen Voss/NPR

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Michel Martin

Stephen Voss/NPR
Michel Martin
Stephen Voss/NPR

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

Ayesha Rascoe

Allison Shelley/NPR
Ayesha Rascoe at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 22, 2018. (photo by Allison Shelley)
Allison Shelley/NPR

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:

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Jacques Coughlin
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
Jacques Coughlin

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

Mary Louise Kelly

Stephen Voss/NPR
Mary Louise Kelly
Stephen Voss/NPR

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

Ailsa Chang

Ailsa Chang
Mike Morgan/NPR

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring 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:

Sam Sanders

Corey Seeholzer/NPR
Sam Sanders
Corey Seeholzer/NPR

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.

Renee Montagne

Allison Shelley/NPR
Renee Montagne
Allison Shelley/NPR

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

Anthony Kuhn

Wang Zemin
Anthony Kuhn
Wang Zemin

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Gene Demby

Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Gene Demby 2013
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

Ari Shapiro

Stephen Voss/NPR
Ari Shapiro
Stephen Voss/NPR

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.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

Eyder Peralta

Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Eyder Peralta
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.

Susan Stamberg

Allison Shelley/NPR
Susan Stamberg
Allison Shelley/NPR

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 connections and correspondence.

Scott Horsley

Doby Photography/NPR
Scott Horsley
Doby Photography/NPR

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.

Hannah Allam

Shatha Alawsy/NPR
Hannah Allam
Shatha Alawsy/NPR

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 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;

Emily Feng

Allison Shelley
Emily Feng at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2019.
Allison Shelley

that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;

Franco Ordoñez

Wanyu Zhang
Franco Ordoñez
Wanyu Zhang

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.

Melissa Block

Allison Shelley
Melissa Block at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018.
Allison Shelley

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.

Editor's Note

The punctuation and spellings here match those posted online by the National Archives.

This story was produced for broadcast by Morning Edition producer Barry Gordemer and for the Web by Heidi Glenn.