July 2nd, 2010
06:02 PM ET

Analysis confirms "subjects-citizens" change in Declaration

Would the spirit of the Declaration of Independence have been any different if it referred to Americans as "subjects" instead of "citizens?"

Thomas Jefferson apparently thought so, and recent analysis of a rough draft of the Declaration has confirmed speculation that he considered both before settling on "citizens."

Recent hyperspectral imaging by scientists in the Library of Congress' Preservation Research and Testing Division performed on Jefferson’s rough draft shows he originally wrote the phrase "our fellow subjects." But he apparently changed his mind and heavily scrawled over the word "subjects" was 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," the Library of Congress said.

Hyperspectral imaging is the process of taking digital photos of an object using distinct portions of the visible and non-visible light spectrum, revealing what previously could not be seen by the human eye, according to the Library of Congress.

The correction occurs in the portion of the declaration that deals with U.S. grievances against King George III's  incitement of "treasonable insurrections," according to the Library of Congress. The specific sentence is is not in the final draft, but a similar phrase stuck, and the word "citizens" is used elsewhere in the final document.

The word correction has been suspected for some time by scholars, according to the LOC. In "The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 1: 1760-1776," Julian P. Boyd wrote "TJ originally wrote ‘fellow-subjects,’ copying the term from the corresponding passage in the first page of the First Draft of the Virginia Constitution; then, while the ink was still wet on the ‘Rough draught’ he expunged or erased ‘subjects’ and wrote ‘citizens’ over it."

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  1. Backspacc

    "...he expunged or erased ‘subjects’ and wrote ‘citizens’ over it.""

    Who is going to ask what "erased" is? HaHa!
    But could they really "erase" pen writing back then? Was it a chemical erasure vice friction?

    July 3, 2010 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. MassiveMarbles

    Racism is what divides this nation. It is ludicrous to believe that one microbe on this petry dish called Earth is more superior than any other! The inflated ego of these specific microbes are sadly disconnected from reality and doesn't realize that all origins of life on this planet sprang from the same water system. Lets fast forward now to the different nations on this planet, it is without a doubt that America with all of its faults still out weighs the freedom and prosperity of all other nations. It doesn't matter "how" we all got here, the simple fact is that we are here! The hypocrite believes that he alone should possess be in this land, and actually believes in a one race reality, well, if that's what you believe than this is NOT for you, this land is for every race, creed, color, religious preference, and gender!

    July 3, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. MassiveMarbles

    * correction to last sentence:

    The hypocrite believes that he alone should possess this land, and actually believes in a one race reality, well, if that's what you believe than principals that made America what it is, is NOT for you, this land is for every race, creed, color, religious preference, and gender!

    July 3, 2010 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. tonY

    What started the influx of Mexican laborers into the United States? The U.S. government during World War II who went to Mexico and asked the Mexican government for Mexican laborers to work in American soil! It started in 1942.
    "The program under which more than three million Mexicans entered the U.S. to labor in the agricultural fields ended in 1964. The U.S. Department of Labor officer in charge of the program, Lee G. Williams, had described it as a system of "'legalized slavery.'" Mexican laborers were given contracts that made it illegal for them to return to Mexico until fulfillment of the contract. They received low wages and poor housing, and often since they were rural farmworkers from Mexico who only sopke Spanish they did not understand the contracts they were signing. USA you reap what you sow! All the major agricultural land in the USA was developed by Mexican laborers that the US brougth over from Mexico. and although "the Bracero" program,ended in the sixties, legally, illegally the USA still hungers for their cheap labor.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. John Harnes

    Legal... Illegal.. So much confusion and foolishness.
    Each people. Each state has controlled a piece of land. Losing control of that land kills that nation except by the memories of a small portion of those people who remember their heritage.
    Some arguments are nonsense:
    1] America is evil because it crushed the native people and took their land...
    Truth – What bloody nation or people did not crush another people and take their land. Far too many people know nothing about history. They fall for new age nonsense about the peaceful Aztecs crushed by the evil Spanish. The Aztecs were a young people who had served as mercenaries for older nations. In time they crushed those nations and created a great empire. They did it in blood and ritual sacrifice. They were the Rome of the New World.
    2] Mexico is a better country and wants the US to follow its example regarding immigration:
    Nonsense. Do you know US citizens can't own land in Mexico? Do you know Mexico has its own immigration laws that make Arizona's new law look like immigration reform and they enforce those laws.
    3] The US is destabilizing Mexico.
    Nonsense. Have you forgotten that US Taxpayers bailed out Mexico when it was on the point of collapse? Mexico's drug lords are in open revolt against the government. They are fighting for free access to the rich markets in the US. Now, who has all the spare money to buy these illegal drugs? .
    We as a nation can't afford to provide welfare and medical support to the world. Our current leaders are going to bankrupt this nation. The Middle Class see these leaders calling for more and more taxes on the Middle Class. In November Democrats are going to lose an amazing number of seats because they have forgotten they are servants of the people not rulers over sheep.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. jokingjoe

    tonY: I read an article in Newsweek recently about the financial upshot of our immigrant problem. It went on to say that the illegal immigrants still end up paying FICA taxes and prop up Medicare and Social Security as they never will withdraw from it. I can't remember the exact figure, but it was in the 8-12 billion dollar range.

    July 3, 2010 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. tbird

    Before we do anything to "fix" the immigration "problem," let's honor the Treaties - some of which were signed by our own treasured George Washington - with Indian Nations. Those Treaties promised to preserve and protect aboriginal Indian lands from the immigrating Europeans and continue to be broken. If America is not good for a promise, what is it good for?

    July 3, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. History Teacher

    I recently had the opportunity to visit Mt. Rushmore and was taken by the experience. It is a shrine to the ideas that Jefferson and his committee in 1776 stood for. Men, women and children from all over the world come to that isolated part of South Dakota to view one of our nations most enduring symbols. Democrat, Republican, conservate liberal radical ,the religious, the agnotsitic were all there......at a shrine to freedom and the greatness of the idea of independence. I am humbled to be an American-Not ashamed.

    Sure- There are problems in our country. We have real issues. But let me me leave you with this thought- That in Soviet Russia, there are no shrines to Communism, The Statues of the oppressors of people around the world (Stalin, Lenin, Hussien) are tore down by their own people......

    Yet in Southwestern South Dakota, A monument to Freedom and its ideas endure-

    Despite our failures as a people-It is something worth celebrating!!!

    July 3, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Jibaro

      Democracy is a matter of issues and the middle way, the right way...

      July 3, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • thorrsman

      Ah, but Jibaro, America is not a democracy, it is a republic. A very large and important difference between the two.

      July 3, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike from Texas

    Congress and the White house needs to read this. The citizens will show thier wrath against thoise subjects who ignore our wishes at the voting booth. Only subjects that comply with the citizens should even hope to get elected

    July 3, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Murin Ar Panterac

    I live in Pinal County, Arizona, and support SB 1070 fully. Why you might ask? Because it is legal and it WILL be the Law here. We have an unique perspective on illegal immigrants because simply we see so many of them. I'm not quite sure of the numbers but there are many who come here to our fine state and apply for Social Services such as food stamps, health care and the other assorted services that every state offers to their citizens, yet these people are here illegally. And many not only receive welfare but they also work under the table jobs (many times more than one job) in addition to receiving public assistance.

    This last hunting season I went on a hunting trip with friends of Mine near the border, and we saw the effects the illegal immigrants have ~while~ crossing our border illegally. Water bottles hanging in mesquite trees so that these illegals can make it through our desert without dying from dehydration, washes and gullies lined with trash (everything from discarded backpacks and clothing to various food containers) And this was not an islotaed problem. In places the trash was so deep that we had to literally go around the area to get through to where we had decided to camp. We took upon ourselves to remove the "hidden" water jugs either by removing them entirely or using our rifles to use them for target practice.

    Even more recently, the President of the Mesa chapter of the Nationalist Socialist Party (yes thats right, Neo-Nazis) took upon himself to gather a rather large force of like minded Men to form a militia and patrol the desert. The Pinal County Sheriff's qouted in the Apache Junction News as saying that they did not however agree with this militia's actions over the weekend period in which it happened, they would not attempt to police these men and conduct the buisness of the Sherrif's office as "Buisness as usual". They cited that sending officers out to curtail these men's activities would be an undue strain on their resources. Personally I beleive that the Pinal County Sherrif's office thought better of the idea because the Neo-Nazis had bigger guns and a whole lot more of them.

    While I do ~not~ share the same ideological beliefs as those Neo-Nazis I agree with their actions in this matter. Someone has to do something to stop the flow of illegals and drugs as well into our state. Here the largest problem isn't "crack" or herion it is Meth which comes for the most part from Mexico. Meth is a serious problem in My town, so much in fact we have dubbed a certain trailer park as "Tweaker Gardens" while the city police force does little except harass law-abiding citizens because they profile them as "Tweakers" for simply riding a bicycle home from work. I should note this happens to Me quite frequently as I refuse to own a car opting instead for a bicycle.

    I am not alone in agreement with the actions of the neo-Nazis nor in support of SB 1070. Its only the people who stand to lose the most money from the loss of an illegal immigrant workforce which can be paid in a much lower scale than legal residents that oppose SB 1070. The Hispanic community opposses it as well but thats to be expected. End result is that the law will go into effect, will not be struck down by Federal authorities (because it mirrors laws in many other states) and the Federal goverment will stand by and do nothing while our land is forcefully invaded by illegals and the Drug Cartels. Obama's "help" amounted to a mere 549 National Guard troops and large signs being posted 80 miles ~north~ of the border declaring our beautiful desert a hostile and dangerous area with roving bands of drug smugglers and Coyotes (Human Smugglers)... Talk about too little too late.. the signs themselves are offensive by their mere existence, and the paltry National Guard contingent little more than a slap in the face.

    Maybe the Neo-Nazis stumbled onto an idea? The police are over extended as it is. An Arizona Immigration Militia (A.I.M) made up of citizens willing to accept the risks of taking on the Cartels might not be such a bad idea. We have just as many guns as they do except we can carry ours legally on our hip in plain sight. The other alternative is to build a 50ft high wall from San Diego to the Gulf of Mexico, placing a mine field on the Mexican Side. Some legs get blown off and the rest of them might decide the attempt to cross the border might not be worth it after all.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • roguey

      Are you pleased that your target shooting may have caused another human being to die of thirst?

      July 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      I see know problem with impedeing the invasion of ILLEGAL aliens. After all the Mexican government provides their people with information on how to enter the United States ILLEGALY.

      July 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. thorrsman

    "Subject" of the government or "Citizen" of a country? Big difference between the two, I'd say. A good, thoughtful and very telling chance by Jefferson, which made America a far better country.

    July 3, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. chuck

    @Chris,, suggest you check your references,, George W was the president (idiot) who tried unsuccessfully to give illegal Mexicans Social Security.... The real reason why immigration reform will never get done, is because the republicans want them here for cheap labor and the Dems for votes.

    Also all the illegals who use stolen social security numbers are paying into the fund, so the government doesnt want the flow of money to stop !

    July 3, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. roguey

    It is utterly ridiculous to suggest that a newborn infant can be illegal. Literally born into crime. So if her mother dies during birth then they'll eship the child back to the mother's country of origin? I ask everyone who is aginst anchor babies, what did you do to earn your American citizenship? Check out this you-tube video watch?v=yHh4urb6Njc

    July 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nwatcher

    Amazing and a little ironic how we are becoming subjects to this administration and government in general. Sorry Mr. Jeffersom, thanks for trying!

    July 3, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bob

    I find it bias, bigoted, and devilishly ironic to read folks clamorong about the citizenship status of people in a country that has murdered millions of people to steal most of the land we have in the USA. Read your history. NONE OF THIS IS OURS. WE STOLE IT ALL AND WIPED OUT AT LEAST 1 CIVILIZATION DOING IT.

    July 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erl

      How are you doing with your anger management classes? What was done is done, but not by us – your sense of history might include today as a pont of reference.

      July 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I got kicked out of anger management for punching the instructor in the face. Violence is the American way, yesterday & today. Get with it.

      July 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
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