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Duplicity of the Declaration

These thoughts stem from American Creation by Joseph J. Ellis. So far, a great book.

In  May of 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a five person committee consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft a resolution expressing the North American colonies' freedom from the British crown and declaring their own independence.

As the unofficial overseer of the committee, Adams first asked Franklin. Franklin declined citing among his reasons, a dislike for writing anything that would be edited by a committee. From there, Adams asked Jefferson who performed the the duty promptly. Once the committee made minor revisions, the committee presented Jefferson's draft to the full congress on June 28.

The congress spent two days making changes to the document and among them: removing any reference to the slave trade or slavery itself, even though Jefferson blamed it all on King George III. The congress focused on the latter part of the document containing the long list of grievances against the king. That section received the most attention because its content expressed the colonies' justification for independence as a result of the king betraying their trust.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, depriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The 55 words would grow to become the American creed. Ironically Jefferson planted the seeds that would grow into the decree for individual rights that eventually contributed to ending slavery, opened the way women's suffrage (at this time the opinions of women were discarded in public affairs), and civil rights for minorities.

The same literature that was written and approved by slave owners and used to shield their "property," (by omitting any text pertaining to slavery) was used in context by later generations to end its very existence and ensure equal rights for many other countless individuals.

Therein lies the duplicity of the Declaration of Independence: once used to protect the slave trade it later became powerful weaponry to end the slave trade and made possible other movements claiming promise to their unalienable rights, too.

God Bless


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