“circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy”

I will admit to being thrilled by the archaic language of the Declaration of Independence. One of my favorite words in the Declaration – beyond that of independence – is the word perfidy.


noun, plural per·fi·dies.
deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery: perfidy that goes unpunished.
an act or instance of faithlessness or treachery.

1585–95; < Latin perfidia faithlessness, equivalent to perfid ( us ) faithless, literally, through (i.e., beyond the limits of) faith ( per- per- + fid ( ēs ) faith + -us adj. suffix) + -ia -y3

From the list of  injuries and usurpations and other sources of aggrievement submitted to a “candid world” comes this one:

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 of the Head of a civilized nation.

Jefferson did have a way with words.

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