From Subjects to Citizens


From Subject to Citizen

Published Date: 
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video Info

Modern science has solved a mystery in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson’s hand wrote a word and then carefully expunged it, smearing the ink and overwriting it so as to completely obliterate the original word. Using spectral imaging technology in 2010, Library of Congress researchers revealed the word that had been so forcefully erased and replaced in 1776. Jefferson had changed the word subjects to citizens,“our fellow citizens.” Though this sentence does not appear in the final version of the Declaration, the word citizens is used elsewhere and subjects is not. This finding reveals an important shift in the Founders’ thinking: the people’s allegiance was to one another, not to a distant king.

Featuring “Lovely Nancy” performed by the American Fife Ensemble.

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