One day to the American declaration of freedom from British tyranny? That’s all we give?

Respectfully, I dissent.

Edward Savage and/or Robert Edge Pine, “Congress Voting the Declaration of Independence,” c. 1776. Copyprint of oil on canvas, courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, on the occasion of a nation’s unalienable love for hot dogs and hamburgers, I posted a brief speech uttered by Judge Learned Hand that I thought touched well upon the sentiments that underlie our Oath of Allegiance. You may read it here.

Today, the revelry isn’t done. I enjoyed an item that came my way via the great folks at the Library of Congress.

As they say:

“The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and heavily amended by the Continental Congress, boldly asserted humanity’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the American colonies’ right to revolt against an oppressive British government. Jefferson’s ‘original Rough draught’ illustrates Jefferson’s literary flair and records key changes made by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and the Continental Congress before its July 4, 1776 adoption.”

(Taken from Our Nation’s Archives: The History of the United States in Documents, edited by Erik Bruun and Jay Crosby, Black Dog & Levanthal Publishers Inc. 1999)

To make your perusal easier, I’ve broken the document into three images.

The annotations reveal a few fascinating things to me:

  • The strengths and ideal concepts that characterize our republic were hard fought and hard negotiated.
  • Because writing is thinking made visible, then I plan to scan every line of these images, which may reveal “what might have been.”
  • Writing students who insist that their first draft is “good enough” are not only lazy and deluded—they are far from Revolutionary.

To see the image on the Library of Congress page, go here.