Saturday, July 03, 2010

Declaration of Independence - Technology brings new insights

The Library of Congress released news yesterday of a discovery that new technology made possible on a draft of the Declaration of Independence. Here is a link to the Associated Press article as it appeared in the Boston Globe this morning. Using a high resolution digital camera that can separate layers of images, a researcher at the archives discovered an erasure in the document. Thomas Jefferson originally wrote the word "subjects" and then wiped it out, apparently while the ink was still wet. He then substituted the word "citizens," which he continued to use throughout the document. The substitution is a window into the mind of Jefferson, as he began to move from the mindset of a royalist to a revolutionary, or to a democrat (in the sense, not of political parties, but of government alternatives).

Happy Independence Day! And kudos to the researchers who discovered this! The image is a close-up of the document showing the word "citizen" substituted into the draft. Other highlights of the draft are changes and notes in the handwriting of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. A very exciting document for history buffs!

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