Reading The Declaration Of Independence: A Tradition Continues More than 200 years ago Friday, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, changing the course of history. NPR marks the anniversary each year by reading the full document.

Reading The Declaration Of Independence: A Tradition Continues

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[EDITOR’S NOTE ON JULY 5, 2022: This story quotes the U.S. Declaration of Independence — a document that contains offensive language about Native Americans, including a racial slur.]

DAVID GREENE (HOST): This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. And now a MORNING EDITION tradition. On this Fourth of July, we present the Declaration of Independence read by visitors to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY 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 in which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL 1: We hold these truths to be self-evident...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: ...That all men are created equal...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2: ...That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: ...That among these are life...

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL 2: ...Liberty...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 3: ...And the pursuit of happiness...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY 2: That whenever any any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of people to alter or abolish it...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 4: ...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.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 4: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 5: But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing, invariably, the same object and evinces design to reduce them under absolute despotism...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 5: ...It is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 6: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 6: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 7: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 7: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 8: He has called together legislative bodies of places unusual, uncomfortable and distant from the depository of their public records for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY 3: He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 8: 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 meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion without and convulsions within.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 9: He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states for that purpose of 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.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: He has obstructed the administration of justice by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 10: He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 9: He has kept among us, in time 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 11: He has combined with others to subject us to the jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 10: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 12: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 11: For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses. For abolishing the free system of English laws in our neighboring province...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 13: ...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.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 12: For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws and altering, fundamentally, the forms of our governments for suspending our own legislators and declaring themselves invested to power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL 3: He has abdicated government here by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coast, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 14: He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages and totally unworthy of a head of a civilized nation.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 13: He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against our country, to become executioners of their friends and brethren or to fall themselves by their hands.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 14: He has excited domestic insurrections among us and has endeavored 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 15: A prince whose character is thus marked with every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 15: 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 an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 16: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 16: They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which announces our separation and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind - enemies in war, in peace, friends.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 17: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 17: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 18: And that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, construct alliances...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 18: ...And to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 19: And for the support of this declaration, with the firm reliance on the protection of divine providence...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 19: We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

GREENE: That is our annual tradition - the Declaration of Independence read by visitors to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. Happy Independence Day. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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