“IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

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.

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, –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. 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. 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.–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. 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.

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.
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.
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.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
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.
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.
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.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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 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 British Crown, and that all political connection 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.”

Engrossed Declaration of Independence, August 2, 1776; Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress

Series: Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774 - 1789
Record Group 360: Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1765 - 1821

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  The Declaration set forth a list of grievances of the American colonies against the British Crown and declared they were breaking from British rule to form free and independent states.

On July 19, 1776, Congress resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and stile [sic] “The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America" and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress. The engrossing was most likely done by Timothy Matlack, an assistant to Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Congress. Although it bears the date “July 4, 1776,“ the engrossed Declaration was signed on August 2, 1776, by members of the Continental Congress who were present that day and later by other members of Congress. A total of 56 delegates eventually signed the document.

Celebrate the 240th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives’ #ArchivesJuly4 Independence Day Event!

It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating 1,000 followers, and now here we are with over 100,000 followers after two short years! We are blown away! We love being able to share our documents and their stories with you—thanks for making that possible. We have the best followers ever! 
What has been your favorite document featured on Congress in the Archives?

Four Years of Today’s Document!

Today’s Document turned 4 today!*  And to top it off we just reached 200,000 followers this week!  We hope Tumblr staff doesn’t mind if we celebrate by taking a little artistic license with this virtual birthday cupcake they were nice enough to send us.

Thanks again to all our fans, followers and fellow history nerds - it’s been a fun fours years!

Technically our official Tumblrversary isn’t until tomorrow, May 16, but we’ll follow the standard workplace practice and celebrate on the Friday before.

GIF sources: 

Missed a todaysdocument post?  Explore our Tumblr archive –  we have over 2,500 posts going back over 2 years!

Don’t know where to start?  Browse a few of our tags for your favorite topic:


Happy 227th #ConstitutionDay!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Learn more about the U.S. Constitution through programs, and resources from the National Archives:

Have you ever been to the usnatarchives to see the Constitution in person?  

Bonus question - have you ever slept over in the same room as the Constitution?

A great start to the new year!

We’ve reached over 20,000 followers! As a special thank-you to all of you congressional history wonks, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite posts over the past year. Thanks for all of your Tumblr love, and Happy New Year!

Memorial of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage

Photograph of the wreckage of U.S. destroyers in Pearl Harbor

FBI Wanted Poster of John Dillinger

Photograph of Union Street Car Line After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

How They’re Acting and How They Feel by Clifford Berryman

Photograph of the USS Akron

Constitution 225: Tweet the Preamble Challenge Results!

In honor of the 225th anniversary of the Constitution, we challenged citizens on Twitter to capture the essence of the 52-word Preamble in just 140 characters. Here’s the winner and some of our favorite entries!

The Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero chose the winner of the “Tweet the Preamble” challenge!:

@JeanHuets: #preamble

We’re getting together to constitute a nation that’s just, peaceful, strong, prosperous and free. Are you in?

This month is our 2nd Tumblrversary and we now stand at over 99,500 followers and climbing!   

Two years ago we started the Today’s Document Tumblr as a somewhat dubious social media experiment and never would have believed that today we’d be on the cusp of 100,000 followers.  We love bringing you a little sliver of history every day, and are gratified that you all keep coming back for more.  So here’s to all our fans, followers, rebloggers, history nerds, fellow tumblarians, and to our National Archives colleagues who have made all these great records available for us to share!  Thanks!! 


(And just in case this wasn’t apparent, no, there is no “U.S. Social Media Commission” we’re aware of - but check out the GSA’s USA.gov Tumblr - they’re probably the closest thing to it.)

“Damn the Torpedoes!”

Admiral David G. Farragut, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865

From the series: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes

A combined assault by a Federal fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David Farragut and Union infantry forces defeated a Confederate fleet and the 3 forts defending Mobile Bay, Alabama on August 5, 1864 (the forts would fall several days later following a short siege).  The loss would deprive the Confederacy of one of its last major ports.  (Farragut had captured New Orleans two years before.)

During the battle Farragut is widely reported to have ordered his ships forward despite the threat of submerged mines (then called torpedoes), calling out “Damn the Torpedoes, Go Ahead!” or more likely: “Damn the Torpedoes, Four Bells…