Thomas Jefferson Changed “Subjects” To “Citizens” In Declaration Of Independence
Historians have long speculated about what was behind a smear on an early version of the Declaration of Independence, believing it could have been either “patriot” or “resident.” Now the Library of Congress says it was something else.
Using a modified version of the kind of spectral imaging technology developed for the military and for monitoring agriculture, research scientists teased apart the mystery and reconstructed the word that Jefferson banished in 1776.
“Seldom can we re-create a moment in history in such a dramatic and living way,” Library of Congress preservation director Dianne van der Reyden said at Friday’s announcement of the discovery.
“It’s almost like we can see him write ‘subjects’ and then quickly decide that’s not what he wanted to say at all, that he didn’t even want a record of it,” she said. “Really, it sends chills down the spine.”
It’s unclear what spurred the change, but here’s what is known:
The erased word is on the third of the draft’s four pages, in the section that addressed grievances against King George III and outlined his incitement of “treasonable insurrections.” The sentence is not found in the later Declaration of Independence, but “citizens” is used elsewhere in that document and “subjects” is not.
Scholars previously determined that Jefferson had been writing his early version based on the first draft of Virginia’s constitution, where the words “our fellow subjects” appear.Click here for reuse options!
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