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Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms

Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms

DECLARATION OF THE CAUSES AND NECESSITIES OF TAKING UP ARMS. 6 July 1775. The Declaration was one of several addresses issued by Congress to justify the necessity of armed resistance. On 23 June Congress appointed a committee consisting of John Rutledge, William Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Thomas Johnson to draw up an address for George Washington to read to the Continental Army besieging Boston. The draft was debated on 24 June and postponed on 26 June. Congress then added John Dickinson and Thomas Jefferson to the committee. The second draft was the joint work of Dickinson and Jefferson. Congress adopted that draft on 6 July, the day after accepting Dickinson's Olive Branch Petition.

The heart of the document is in these lines:

We are reduced to the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery…. Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable…. With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ them for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.

SEE ALSO Dickinson, John; Franklin, Benjamin; Jay, John; Jefferson, Thomas; Livingston, William; Olive Branch Petition; Rutledge, John.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Boyd, Julian P., ed. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Vol. 1: 1760–1776. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1950.

                             revised by Harold E. Selesky

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