Authors, the next time you face edits, know we’re in good company. After Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, he sent copies to several close friends. One friend, fellow Virginian Richard Henry Lee took issue with the changes Congress had made and told them so.
“I wish sincerely, as well for the honor of Congress, as for that of the States, that the Manuscript had not been mangled as it is. It is wonderful, and passing pitiful, that the rage of change should be so unhappily applied. However the Thing is in its nature so good, that no Cookery can spoil the Dish for the palates of Freemen.”
Passing on pertinent links for the day.
The Library of Congress has an online Jefferson Exhibition
American children grew up with this document as mandatory learning in the 8th grade. The idea wasn’t original, people had been trying it for hundreds of years. The concept gained reason and strength during the period of history known as the Enlightenment (a fascinating era to study by the way).
Though American mythology paints the Declaration and the War of Independence as simple rebellion against a tyrant king, and the ignorant use it today to spew hate based upon that mythology, there was, and is, far more to it than that. The founders based it upon the best of concepts of human rights in the free (notice I said free) Ancient world — a world that gave us a democratic Greece and the republic of Rome. The United States of American was designed from the get go to be a democratic republic. It was to be the “golden temple on the hill”. In other words, the ideals of the Enlightenment made tangible. But there was more to it than even that. In fact, in many ways the golden hill philosophy was the frosting on the cake.
These Declaration signers were the cream of the crop. They were educated/self-made men of standing sent to represent their colony’s interests. At the time, raw materials were being harvested at a tremendous rate and the lands harvested laid waste. The products from these materials were manufactured elsewhere and then sold back to the colonies at high cost rather than the colonies making their own goods with local materials to be sold in local markets. These men saw the benefit of keeping resources to be used here, and profited from, here. The truth behind our beloved myth wasn’t simple, it was reason and finance. And you know what? That doesn’t make it any less potent than the myth of ragtag colonists telling the mean king they weren’t going to pay tax on their tea anymore. I think it makes the idea even bolder because money talks, and armies march on their stomachs. King George was loathe to give up the cash cow. Had there been no ocean divide then to make the war a drain on society across the pond, we’d all have better health care. 🙂
I recommend reading this document with an adult’s eyes. It really is an astounding act of defiance. The unedited version must have been amazing. Read it and follow it up with the Bill of Rights. These fluid documents were made to grow with us and the romantic idea of a self-governing people was a good one. I certainly felt Enlightened after I read them with my adult perspective. http://www.ushistory.org/Declaration/document/
Happy 4th everyone!
for my day. I’m revisiting an interest of mine. The Oracle at Delphi. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com
And over on the RB4U website http://romancebooks4us.com
Our Christmas in July contest begins July 6th. Find the little glittering tree from among the author’s pages (shown in white) Cute. 🙂
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