For those of you who are celebrating it, happy Independence Day!
As I mentioned before, gnomi and I will be going to the Old State House to hear the Declaration read, as it has been every year on July 4th since 1777. Then, this afternoon, we'll watch the movie 1776, as is our tradition.
I spent a little time yesterday poking around the Internet about the Declaration, and have found a few webpages that might interest people:
- The Text of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives
- Thomas Jefferson's Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence
- The Hypertext Declaration of Independence, in which you can click on certain passages to see how they were altered from the first draft to the final draft
Of course, the omitted passage that I always find of most interest is as follows:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivatng and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people for whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
With this passage, Jefferson would have outlawed slavery in the United States of America. Congress was unable to do so because of the objections of the southern congressman, in particular Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, who at the time was the youngest member of Congress, only 27 years old. Rutledge refused to endorse or sign the Declaration so long as it contained that passage. When Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin finally gave in, Adams presciently noted that slavery would lead to troubles "a hundred years hence."