The declaration of independ

Words: 301-400

Skills: Context Clues Summary

Grades: 9th 10th 11th 12th

Topics: History and Political Writings

Genres: Informational Prose

Lexile Range: 1300L +

Lexile Measure: 1600L

CCSS: Reading: Informational Text


The Declaration of Independence

by Second Continental Congress

The Declaration of Independence was the document adopted and signed by the Second Continental Congress in which the American colonies announced their independence from Great Britain. Students will read the passage and answer questions on the theme and vocabulary.

Reading Comprehension Passage

The Declaration of Independence

by Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. This is the first part of the document. The spelling and grammar is the same as in the original. 


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.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. What are the "unalienable rights" that the document says are given to all men?    

2. According to the document, where does government get its "just powers" from?    

3. What does "usurpations" mean?    

4. According to the document, who has the right to abolish or alter government?