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  • "All men are created equal

  • and they are endowed with the rights to

  • life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

  • Not so fast, Mr. Jefferson!

  • These words from the Declaration of Independence,

  • and the facts behind them, are well known.

  • In June of 1776,

  • a little more than a year after the war against England began

  • with the shots fired at Lexington and Concord,

  • the Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia

  • to discuss American independence.

  • After long debates, a resolution of independence

  • was approved on July 2, 1776.

  • America was free!

  • And men like John Adams thought we would celebrate that date forever.

  • But it was two days later that the gentlemen in Congress

  • voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence,

  • largely written by Thomas Jefferson,

  • offering all the reasons why the country should be free.

  • More than 235 years later,

  • we celebrate that day as America's birthday.

  • But there are some pieces of the story you may not know.

  • First of all, Thomas Jefferson gets the credit

  • for writing the Declaration,

  • but five men had been given the job

  • to come up with a document explaining why

  • America should be independent:

  • Robert Livingston,

  • Roger Sherman,

  • Benjamin Franklin and

  • John Adams were all named first.

  • And it was Adams who suggested that the young,

  • and little known, Thomas Jefferson join them

  • because they needed a man from the influential Virginia Delegation,

  • and Adams thought Jefferson was a much better writer than he was.

  • Second, though Jefferson never used footnotes,

  • or credited his sources,

  • some of his memorable words and phrases were borrowed

  • from other writers and slightly tweaked.

  • Then, Franklin and Adams offered a few suggestions.

  • But the most important change came after the Declaration

  • was turned over to the full Congress.

  • For two days, a very unhappy Thomas Jefferson

  • sat and fumed while his words were picked over.

  • In the end, the Congress made a few, minor word changes,

  • and one big deletion.

  • In the long list of charges that Jefferson made

  • against the King of England,

  • the author of the Declaration had included the idea

  • that George the Third was responsible for the slave trade,

  • and was preventing America from ending slavery.

  • That was not only untrue,

  • but Congress wanted no mention of slavery

  • in the nation's founding document.

  • The reference was cut out

  • before the Declaration was approved and sent to the printer.

  • But it leaves open the hard question:

  • How could the men,

  • who were about to sign a document,

  • celebrating liberty and equality,

  • accept a system in which some people owned others?

  • It is a question that

  • would eventually bring the nation to civil war

  • and one we can still ask today.

"All men are created equal

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B1 US TED-Ed jefferson declaration thomas jefferson independence congress

【TED-Ed】What you might not know about the Declaration of Independence - Kenneth C. Davis

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    Zenn posted on 2014/07/17
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