History comes to life this 4th of July!

July 6, 2010

Did you know that there was actually a Committee of Five who were responsible for drafting the United States Declaration of Independence?  While most people know about Thomas Jefferson’s role, the other members of the Committee were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston of New York and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

On Friday, July 2, 2010, the Library of Congress announced that it used a modern version of a type of hyperspectral imaging technology that compiles a series of images to highlight layers of a document to review the original Declaration of Independence.  Why?  Because historical scholars have long been interested in a smudge that appears on a draft version of the  Declaration of Independence.  So methodical and careful was Jefferson is writing this draft of the Declaration, he wanted to make sure his earlier drafted word was not decipherable to readers when he wrote over it.

Jefferson, it seems, initially referred to the people in the thirteen British colonies as “subjects.”   After some thought, the word “citizen” was carefully crafted by Jefferson who sought to match the lines and curves of the underlying smudged letters with the new letters he wrote on top of them. It took research scientist Fenella France weeks to pull out each letter until the full word became apparent. “It’s quite amazing how he morphed ‘subjects’ into ‘citizens,’ ” she said. “We did the reverse morphing back to ‘subjects.’ “

You can find a copy of the Declaration of Independence on Westlaw in the USCA database with the search ci(“declaration of independence”).

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