From Subject to Citizen

In an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote a word and then carefully expunged it, smearing the ink and overwriting it so as to completely obliterate the original. Using spectral imaging technology in 2010, Library of Congress researchers revealed that Jefferson had changed the word “subjects” to “citizens,” revealing an important shift in the Founders’ thinking: the people’s allegiance was to one another, not to a distant king.

 

Posted by arrangement with the Kettering Foundation. Home page image: “Caveman Chuck” Coker.

About the Lead Author

The Kettering Foundation
The Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Charles F. Kettering, best known for inventing the automobile self-starter, created the foundation in 1927. Gradually, the foundation expanded its focus to look beyond scientific solutions, recognizing that problems like world hunger are not technical problems, but rather political problems. In the 1970s, the foundation began to concentrate on democratic politics, particularly the role of citizens. Today, Kettering’s research is renowned around the globe because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

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