DEBATING A PERIOD IN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. I posted here about how when we suggested to Nick that he might like to watch 1776, I made the mistake of describing it as a musical about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. After I mentioned 1776, Nick, age ten, started doing occasional riffs on what he imagined as one song from the show, sung to a tune he invented: “There should be a period here. Da doot da da doot.” “It should be a semi-colon.” Annalisa would join in.
I was reminded of this when I read about a debate—described here at the Business Insider blog by Christina Sterbenz—about whether or not there is a period missing in the most frequently seen printings of the Declaration of Independence. Professor Danielle Allen of the Institute of Advanced Study argues that in the official transcript of the National Archives, the following sentence contains a period that should not be there:
“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 these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ….”
The period after the word “Happiness” is the one that is challenged.
Sterbenz says that; “Unfortunately, the original document has faded to near illegibility”.
To vary Nick’s song: “There should not be a period here….”