The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
"The Declaration of Independence in American," by H.L. Mencken. "When things get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody." Why we did what we did. In American, so everyone can understand.
On the day that John Adams thought would be celebrated as the birth of the United States of America, the Library of Congress reveals that in an original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson referred to "Our fellow subjects," not "Our fellow citizens."
These are the documents that started it all. The Charters of Freedom. As the USA celebrates another Independence Day, the National Archives presents the historical development of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and their impact upon the nation and the world.
"Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others." Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress, and the first woman to run for president on a major party ticket. On June 1, 1950, she gave her Declaration of Conscience speech against McCarthyism on the floor of the Senate, and much of it is relevant today.
It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedom. It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques--techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.[more inside]
The Declaration of Independence It's meant to be read aloud