Home National Politics Thomas Jefferson Changes Us From “Subjects” to “Citizens”

Thomas Jefferson Changes Us From “Subjects” to “Citizens”


The Library of Congress explains:

Recent hyperspectral imaging of Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence has clearly confirmed past speculation that Jefferson made an interesting word correction during his writing of the document, according to scientists in the Library of Congress’ Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD).

Jefferson originally had written the phrase “our fellow subjects.” But he apparently changed his mind. Heavily scrawled over the word “subjects” was an alternative, the word “citizens.”

The correction seems to illuminate an important moment for Jefferson and for a nation on the eve of breaking from monarchical rule: 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.

Very cool, I wonder what “hyperspectral imaging” analysis would find if applied to other great documents from our history.


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleRoger Ebert: Thumbs Up for “9500 Liberty!”
Next articleWhipple Clip Dozen: Sunday Morning