From the Library of Congress comes news that Thomas Jefferson experienced a Founding Fathers’ slip while drafting the Declaration of Independence.
According to an article in the Washington Post, scientists at the LOC confirmed a longtime suspicion that in one spot where Jefferson wrote the word “citizens,” he had originally written “subjects” – the word describing the colonists’ political relationship to the British crown – but removed the word before the ink dried.
He replaced “subjects” with “citizens,” the word befitting the people of the 13 colonies who would be part of an independent republic.
The article describes the use of spectral imaging, as well as the many difficulties researchers encountered as they re-examined his Rough Draught of the document. The Rough Draught is an important text that allows historians to examine the development of Jefferson’s case for independence and see the differences between the draft and the final version we know today.
If you fear that Jefferson was actually a closet royalist, put your mind at ease. Scholars who have examined the document before have long suspected that Jefferson erased another word before writing “citizens,” a new concept that replaced a lifetime of thinking of himself as a subject of the King of Great Britain.