July 4th, 2012 at the National Archives: Dramatic Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Uploaded by usnationalarchives on 17.07.2012

[music playing]
>> Steve Scully: The words of liberty as we read aloud the
Declaration of Independence.
And for that, it is my great honor to introduce to you a very
distinguished group of individuals who
will read the Declaration.
First, as you heard from David Ferriero, the four descendants
of our founding fathers, who are here today,
Laura Belman,
please stand, John Belman,
Laura Murphy,
and Michael Miller. [applause]
Now of course, folks, we cannot have just
the Declaration of Independence, because we had some
grievances against King George, III.
And so, for that, we have the leaders of the
Second Continental Congress.
Please join me in welcoming Mr. Thomas Jefferson,
Mr. John Adams, and Dr. Benjamin Franklin.
Now these three gentlemen know the words of the Declaration
better than anyone else.
Mr. Jefferson, of course, wrote the first draft.
Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin, well,
they made a couple of changes to it.
And finally, to read the names of the 56 signers, those men who
signed this grand declaration, we are happy to welcome
Private Edward "Ned" Hector
of the Free Black Colonial Soldier.
He is a respected patriot and hero.
He is a veteran of the Third Pennsylvania Artillery Company.
He was noted, by the way, for his courage during
the Revolutionary War.
When he refused to let his wagon, his team, and his
armaments fall into enemy hands.
And he was quoted as saying, "The enemy shall
not have my team.
I will save the horses or perish myself."
So we'll ask all of these folks to come up.
And ladies and gentlemen,
the Declaration of Independence.
>> Laura Belman: In Congress, July 4,
1776, the unanimous Declaration of the 13 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 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.
>> Jon Belman: 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.
And 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 see most likely
to affect their safety and happiness.
>> Female Speaker: Prudence indeed
will dictate that governments long established should not
be changed for light and transient causes.
And accordingly, all experience has 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.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing
invariably the same object event as 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.
>> John Belman: 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.
>> Thomas Jefferson: He has refused his
assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.
>> Benjamin Franklin: He has forbidden his
governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation until his assent
should be obtained.
And when so suspended, he has utterly neglected
to attend to them.
>> John Adams: 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.
>> Thomas Jefferson: 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.
>> Benjamin Franklin: He has dissolved representative
houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his
invasions on the rights of the people.
>> John Adams: He has refused
for a long time after such dissolutions to cause
others to be elected.
Whereby the legislating 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 from without and convulsions within.
>>Thomas Jefferson: He has endeavored 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 land.
>> Benjamin Franklin: He has obstructed
the administration of justice
by refusing his assent to laws
for establishing judiciary powers.
>> John Adams: He has made judges dependent on his
will alone for
the tenure of their offices and the amount
and payment of their salaries.
>> Thomas Jefferson: He has erected a multitude of new
offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people
and eat out their substance.
>> Benjamin Franklin: He has kept
among us in times of peace standing armies without the
consent of our legislature.
>> John Adams: He has affected to render
the military independent of and superior
to the civil power.
>> Thomas Jefferson: 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 or armed
troops among us for protecting them by 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 offenses, for abolishing the free
system of English laws and
in a neighboring province, establishing therein
an arbitrary government and enlarging its boundaries,
so as to render a debt once, an example, and fit instrument for
introducing the same absolute rules 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.
>> Benjamin Franklin: He has abdicated government here
by declaring us out of his protection
and waging war against us.
>> John Adams: He has plundered our seas, ravaged our
coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed
the lives of our people.
>> Thomas Jefferson: He is at this time transporting
large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the
works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with
circumstances scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous
ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
>> Benjamin Franklin: 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.
>> John Adams: He has excited domestic insurrections amongst
us and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our
frontiers the merciless Indian savages, who's known rule
of warfare is an undistinguished destruction
of our ages, sexes, and conditions. [applause]
>> Laura Belman: 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 who's character is thus marked by every act, which may
define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
>> Michael Miller: Nor have we been wanting
in attention to our British 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 immigration
and settlement here.
We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity.
And we have conjured them by the ties of our kindred to disavow
these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our
connections and correspondence.
They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice,
and to consanguinity.
We must therefore acquiesce the necessity which denounces our
separation and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind enemies
in war in peace, friends.
>> Laura Murphy: 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 that the great state
of Britain is and ought to totally be 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. [applause]
>> Michael Miller: 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.
>> Steve Scully: Thank you.
Thank you very much to Laura Belman, to John Belman,
to Michael Miller, descendants of the founding fathers of the
Declaration of Independence, and to Laura Murphy from the
Daughters of the American Revolution to Mr. Jefferson,
to Mr. Adams, to Dr. Franklin, thank you.
[applause] Those were the words heard 236 years ago.
Send the message to King George.
Private Hector will now read the names of the colonies and the
signers of the Declaration of Independence.
There were 56 signers, 13 original colonies.
Now in colonial times, as you heard from the stage during the
course of the morning, there is the traditional, well,
how does it go?
>> Audience: Huzzah?
>> Steve Scully: Huzzah?
So here's a test for all of you.
After Private Hector reads the names of the signers from each
of the states, 13 times, we want your approval.
So let's just -- let's test it out.
Let's hear a hearty Huzzah?
>> Audience: Huzzah!
>> Steve Scully: What do you think?
>> Male Speaker: Didn't hear it at all.
I tell you what.
If you don't do a better job, you're going to go sing,
"God Save the Queen."
Let's try it one more time.
On the count of three, one, two, three.
>> Audience: Huzzah!
>> Steve Scully: Okay, you can all stay Americans. [laughter]
>> Edward "Ned" Hector: It will be my pleasure to read the names
of these men who were said to be signing their death warrant.
At the end of each, if you feel compelled to cheer for your
particular state, don't hold back.
First, to the president
of the Continental Congress, John Hancock. Huzzah!
Georgia, Button Gwinett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton, Huzzah!
North Carolina, Williams Hoope, Joseph Hewes,
and John Penn, Huzzah!
South Carolina, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr.,
Thomas Lynch, Jr., and Arthur Middleton, Huzzah! Maryland,
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone,
and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Huzzah!
Virginia, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee,
Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr.,
Francis Lightfoot Lee, and Carter Braxton, Huzzah!
Pennsylvania, Robert Morris,
Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin,
John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith,
George Taylor, James Wilson,
and George Ross, Huzzah!
Delaware, Caesar Rodney,
George Read, and Thomas McKean, Huzzah!
New York, William Floyd, Philip Livingston,
Francis Lewis, and Lewis Morris,
Huzzah! New Jersey, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon,
Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, and Abraham Clark, Huzzah!
New Hampshire, Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton,
William Whipple, Huzzah!
Massachusetts, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine,
and Elbridge Gerry, Huzzah! Rhode Island, Steven Hopkins
and William Ellery, Huzzah!
Connecticut, Roger Sherman,
Samuel Huntington, William Williams,
and Oliver Wolcott, Huzzah!
Let's give them the ultimate of Huzzahs.
Three Huzzahs.
Hip, hip, Huzzah!
Hip, hip, Huzzah!
Hip, hip, Huzzah!
Well done.
>> Steve Scully: Private Hector, thank you.
Very well done.
Another round of applause.
That was fabulous.
Thank you.
[applause] Ladies and gentlemen, before we conclude the program,
a couple of reminders.
If you want to view the Declaration of Independence
or the charters of freedom in the building behind me,
the Archives will remain open until 7:00 this evening.
Also, there are a number of family activities during
the course of this afternoon.
Some people that we want to thank as we wrap up our program
to the Foundation of the National Archives, to all of our
special readers, to the distinguished guests here on the
stage, to the American Historical Theater,
and our founding fathers one more time,
Dr. Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson.
We would like to thank the
Third United States Infantry,
the Old Guard, and John Hancock Financial
for their support of this program.
And, of course, one final round of applause to the staff and
volunteers of the National Archives, who have been putting
this on for 30 plus years, thank you.
On behalf of all of us here today, we wish you
a wonderful Fourth of July.
Enjoy the festivities around Washington, D.C.
And before we let you go, it is my pleasure
to re-introduce
the lovely voice of Olivia Vote [phonetic].
[singing "America the Beautiful"]
>> Steve Scully: Thank you all.
Have a wonderful day.
>> Male Speaker: Very nice.
>> Male Speaker: Thank you.
Thank you very much.
>> Male Speaker: Congratulations.
>> Male Speaker: Thank you.
One -- we got to come up and see you.
>> Male Speaker: Great job, thank you.
>> Male Speaker: Terrific.
[music playing]