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5 interesting facts about the Declaration of Independence

‘Subjects’

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States of America and author of the Declaration of Independence. |

Speaking of notable changes in the Declaration of Independence, another prominent alteration was the replacement of the term “subjects” with “citizens.”

In 2010, the Library of Congress’ Preservation, Research and Testing Division conducted a hyperspectral imaging of an earlier draft of Jefferson’s declaration.

The researchers found that Jefferson had initially used the phrase “our fellow subjects” in a rough draft, but then altered the last word to be “citizens” instead.

“The correction seems to illuminate an important moment for Jefferson and for a nation on the eve of breaking from monarchy: a moment when he reconsidered his choice of words and articulated the recognition that the people of the fledgling United States of America were no longer subjects of any nation, but citizens of an emerging democracy,” reported the LOC at the time.

“The correction occurs in the portion of the declaration that deals with U.S. grievances against King George III—in particular, his incitement of ‘treasonable insurrections.’ While the specific sentence didn’t make it into the final draft, a similar phrase was retained, and the word ‘citizens’ is used elsewhere in the final document. The sentence didn’t carry over, but the idea did.”

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