July 3rd, 2010 09:35 AM
My Fellow Subjects...I Mean Citizens....
Thomas Jefferson Made Slip in Declaration of Independence
(July 3) -- With one smudge of a feathered fountain pen back in 1776, American history changed forever.
Chemists and archivists analyzing the U.S. Declaration of Independence have long speculated about cross-outs and smudges in Thomas Jefferson's original rough draft of the document. One smudge was much more aggressively wiped out and others. And on Friday, officials at the Library of Congress revealed for the first time what they believe was a Freudian slip by one of America's Founding Fathers.
Jefferson is believed to have first written the word "subjects" to describe the American population, and then replaced it with the term "citizens," which appears throughout the historic document. Even in the midst of declaring the United States' independence from Britain, Jefferson may not have fully escaped the mindset of a monarchy.
"It shows the progress of his mind. This was a decisive moment," said James Billington, the U.S. librarian of Congress.
"We recovered a magic moment that was otherwise lost to history," he said. His comments and those of researchers were reported by several news agencies.
On Friday, librarians briefly took the document out of its oxygen-free vault in Washington for the first time in 15 years, to ferry it under police escort to another facility for more high-tech imaging.
A research chemist at the Library, Fenalla France, said she believes Jefferson used his hand to wipe out the word "subjects" while the ink was still wet. There's a distinct brown smudge on the paper, over which he penned the word "citizens" instead.
Discovering what was underneath the smudge required the use of a high resolution digital camera to take a series of photos of layers of the document. They reveal erased text and even fingerprints from the founding fathers -- what France called "spine-tingling" finds.
"This has been a very exciting development," she said.
Jefferson's edit was made on the third page of his four-page original draft, in a section in which he lists grievances against King George III. The sentence never made it into the final version, but the word "citizens" -- never "subjects" -- appears prominently throughout.
Scholars have speculated as to whether the smudge reveals a Freudian slip by Jefferson, who grew up as a subject of Britain's king, or whether his first draft adopted some of the language from a draft of Virginia's constitution, which uses the words "our fellow subjects."
July 3rd, 2010 09:44 AM
July 3rd, 2010 09:48 AM
We have Czars in high places watching over us lowly subjects these days.
It's the "latest way" of thinking.
Hummm...I don't want to get started going down that road.
July 3rd, 2010 10:54 AM
"feathered fountain pen"
Rather like a reporter not to know pens (dip vs. fountain) any more that guns (automatic vs. semi-auto).
Fountain pen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.
I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.
Veni, Vidi, Velcro
July 3rd, 2010 11:14 AM
I think they still read it that way in California, Illinois and New York!
You can educate ignorance, you can't fix stupid
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July 3rd, 2010 11:22 AM
Do they keep Polosi in the "oxygen free vault" too?
July 3rd, 2010 11:35 AM
She could suck the life breath out of any room that she was in.
July 3rd, 2010 11:56 AM
Since they got the document out, somebody oughta read it to he big eared fella in the White House. He's obviously NEVER read it.
July 3rd, 2010 12:19 PM
It was some very crazy times back then. I'm sure our Founding Fathers stumbled over a few words.
Don't believe what you hear and only half of what you see!
July 3rd, 2010 12:42 PM
I don't think it's a matter of stumbling at all. Remember we WERE subjects of the King. They were so used to that concept, and the idea of being free citizens was new and unfamiliar, they were bound to slip up, just like when you write 2009 in your checkbook for the first couple weeks of 2010 or something.
Originally Posted by varob
"Naked and Starving as They are We Cannot Enough Admire the Incomparable Patience and Fidelity of the Soldiery" – George Washington, Valley Forge, 1777.
July 3rd, 2010 02:08 PM
Maybe it is a CURRENT copy?
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