A Stray Spot? or a Period?

  • Anyone who has been to the National Archives Museum knows that the Declaration of Independence, the U.S Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are nearly impossible to read due to their faded parchments. Now a scholar claims that the Declaration of Independence, which seems to have a period at the end of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in fact does not have one. It is just a stray spot.

     

    According to Danielle Allen (who recently published Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality) the logic of the sentence moves from the value of individual rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — to the importance of government as a tool for protecting those rights. Accepting, as almost everyone does, that there is a period significantly changes the meaning of the Declaration, she claims. For a summary of arguments on both sides, see The New York Times (2-Jul-2014).

JDN | 14-Jul-2014

In a land where horsemanship was often men’s touchiest point of pride, Jefferson had to admit he never saw Washington’s like for grace and control in the saddle. A froniter runner and Indian wrestler — his friend George Mercer described his frame as padded with well-developed muscles — Washington had by 1774 refined mere energy down to a grace of least movement, the higher athleticism of the dance. And he danced well.

Garry Wills
Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (1978)