The Declaration of Independence was originally written to encompass the ideas
that Thomas Jefferson felt defined the United States. When he brought the fully written
Declaration of Independence to the other Founding Fathers, they felt that his writings weren’t as powerful as they could be and that they would have trouble persuading the majority of states to join the union if changes weren’t made. Because of this, Jefferson rewrote parts of the Declaration, changing the persuasive appeals, tone of his writing, and omitting parts of the piece that could offend potential citizens.!
Jefferson’s original draft saw many changes before it was published as the
Declaration of Independence; many of these changes were small, seemingly unnoticeable, word changes that made the Declaration a more persuasive piece. In the opening sentence, Jefferson’s original draft uses the statement “…a people…” this is changed in the final draft to “…one people…” While this change seems unimportant, it makes the piece feel less generic. The article “a” is nonspecific, it could refer to any people, by changing this to the more specific “one” the document no longer includes every person, but rather a select people. This meant that the Declaration wasn’t referring to slaves or Native Americans, but only to white male colonists, the intended audience. This seemingly small change was accompanied by many others of the same genre and, though they seem minuscule, they actually changed the entire message of the piece. !
One of the most quoted parts of the Declaration of Independence is the
statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” Many children in the United States will be required to memorize this statement, but these words were not the ones originally intended by Thomas Jefferson. In his original draft Jefferson wrote the statement as
“We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness…” At first glance the changes made to this statement are unnoticeable, but they are there and they were deliberate changes. The word “independent” is removed from the statement and the stated rights are no longer “inherent”. These changes may seem unimportant but by removing the word independent the piece hopes to convince the colonies that they won’t survive without joining the…