Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government United Kingdom United States Politics

Spectral Imaging Reveals Jefferson Nixed 'Subjects' for 'Citizens' 360

Posted by timothy
from the this-is-cooler-than-unredacting-pdfs dept.
Jamie points out this excellent piece, well timed for America's Independence Day, that says spectrographic evidence has established that the one word Thomas Jefferson fully blotted out from an early draft of the Declaration of Independence was not "resident," or "patriot," but rather "subject." This, he replaced with "citizen."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Spectral Imaging Reveals Jefferson Nixed 'Subjects' for 'Citizens'

Comments Filter:
  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:06PM (#32788106) Homepage Journal

    That redacting documents by simply putting a opaque block over them dosn't removing the unlaying data?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I guess we'll have to add this "doesn't properly cnesor documents" will have to be listed to the other UNFAIR criticisms modern idiots like to level against Thomas Jefferson.

      And yes I know you were just joking but I'm making a point - People level criticisms against Jefferson that, in his day and age, were considered acceptable behavior. Like not allowing women the vote, or only limited suffrage to property owners. People should be judged by their own culture not by 2010 US culture.

      For me, despite his

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ultranova (717540)

      That redacting documents by simply putting a opaque block over them dosn't removing the unlaying data?

      Hopefully never.

      On unrelated note, when will Slashdot get "-1 began a sentence in the subject" mod?

  • Don't worry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:07PM (#32788112) Homepage Journal

    they have correct that correction some time ago now, you are not citizens, you are consumers - inmates - terrorists - child molesters - unique serial numbers - organ donors.

    • In our current society the most important label is "victim." Once you or your somewhat defined demographic group can achieve the official label of victim, the largess of the non-victims (also known as taxpayers) is yours for the grovelling. Keep in mind that both the lawmakers who bestow victimhood and the bureaucracy take their cut from what is extorted from the taxpayers as their part of the squeeze.

      BTW, this isn't limited to the United States. Lots of countries have made official victimhood the most d

      • BTW, this isn't limited to the United States. Lots of countries have made official victimhood the most desirable status one can aspire to. Unfortunately, their additional experience with leeching taxpayers to pay their victims has created a dearth of taxpayers. Funny how that happens.

        If you're referring to welfare states, they are a lot closer to financial solvency than the US, which prides itself on its can-do, American dream, pull-youself-up-with-your-own-bootstraps anti-welfare spirit, but is saddled with debt unimaginable in a place like Finland or Sweden.

        • by unity (1740) on Sunday July 04, 2010 @12:01AM (#32790144)
          Well, debt is what happens when you go around empire-building. How many wars are Finland and Sweden involved in? How many military bases worldwide do they have? We're building a billion dollar embassy in England, and the one in Iraq is bigger than the vatican. It isn't the "pull-youself-up-with-your-own-bootstraps anti-welfare spirit" that is killing the american dream. It is that our nations rulers also think they need to rule the world (both parties). All empires come to end; of course the US was never supposed to be an empire.
  • by linumax (910946) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:09PM (#32788122)
    Considering the mindset of the era, this actually is a good indicator of how Jefferson and other founding fathers understood that there was something wrong with the status quo and managed to change it.
    • by insufflate10mg (1711356) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:12PM (#32788138)
      Absolutely. You would think more people on /. would be replying seriously to this article. It's incredible to think that that one ink blot had such a profound effect on the US today. Think of how much of a core element the word "citizen" has become; it's like a symbol of our freedom and unity.
      • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:41PM (#32788290) Homepage Journal

        Well, I was going to say that with the Declaration, Jefferson DID change subjects into citizens, and I'm not talking about word replacement.

      • It's incredible to think that that one ink blot had such a profound effect on the US today.

        I'm... not so sure about that. Jefferson's mindset had a profound impact on the formation of the US and its laws and liberties today, and this inkblot itself gives us insight into his thoughts, but the article itself notes that the entire line was removed from the final draft. The actual Declaration of Independence does not include this text, altered or otherwise, at all.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by noidentity (188756)
        Never mind this changed word; what about all the changes made in the drafts that existed only in the founding fathers' minds? Sure, this finding shows some of the thought processes going on at the time, but there were plenty more that never left such direct evidence on paper, and just as important.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        ...our freedom and unity.

        Our what? We gave that up years ago as we timidly allow the government lead us into quagmire after quagmire and kowtow to corporate demands at the drop of a hat.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:39PM (#32788282)
      ...And we still have the status quo today.

      But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

      The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

      He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

      Hm, sound like the immigration mess we have today?

      He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

      Hm, appointing unfair judges for life... Based on the will of ~0.000033667% of the people? Sound familiar?

      He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

      Sound familiar? DEA, Homeland Security, etc.?

      He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.

      Well, thats a bit different now, because we seem to think that there can't be any times of peace so instead we have a standing army always and find new conflicts to fight.

      For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

      Hm, people in the police force and the armed forces getting off easy for abuses of citizens, that of course has never happened in the USA... right?

      For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

      And today we have embargoes that not only harm our own citizens but keep some parts of the world in poverty because we disagree with their government... -cough- Cuba -cough-

      For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:

      Lets see, Ben Franklin estimated taxes in the colonies at around 12.5%... Today we have a 15% income tax at the realistic minimum (unless you are like a kid at a summer job or something then its only 10%) and up to 35% if you are successful at what you do! Plus, the income tax is actually unconstitutional! (Thats why they needed to pass a constitutional amendment for it to be in effect today)


      All the abuses of King George III on America are very similar to the abuses we suffer under our recent presidents and congresses.

      • by am 2k (217885) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:12PM (#32788472) Homepage

        All the abuses of King George III on America are very similar to the abuses we suffer under our recent presidents and congresses.

        That's because the government structure is very similar. Back then, you had a king appointed by nobody that did whatever he wanted. Nowadays, you have two puppets up for a pseudo-election, while the real legislative power is directed by people most citizens don't even know about (see Bilderberg Group for example). Since they're operating in the dark and are not elected, they also can do whatever they want.

        Maybe that sounds a little bit tinfoil-hattish, but that's the most straight-forward way I could think of to explain the US government's behavior in the last decade.

        • You don't even need to get sounding that paranoid to see it, one needs only to look at how our federal reserve was founded (yeah, "duck hunting"...) and the large amount of agencies with nearly unlimited powers with appointed positions (FCC, FTA, DEA, DHS, etc.)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Reziac (43301) *

            It's the internal army of agencies with essentially unlimited powers that bother me the most, along with gov't increasingly being "privatized" to give *private agencies power over other citizens*. (This is absolutely NOT the same as "privatizing" a function; it's more like setting up a gov't-sponsored mafia.)

            This is, as I've pointed out before, about where Rome was around 250AD, and was probably their point of no return. We're getting there a lot faster, probably thanks to modern communications.

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:32PM (#32788608) Homepage

        Much of what you said above takes things out of context or makes massive confusions about differences in scale. Let's look at two of them:

        He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.

        Well, thats a bit different now, because we seem to think that there can't be any times of peace so instead we have a standing army always and find new conflicts to fight.

        You are missing the point here. The primary objection is "kept among us"- this is an objection to quartering soldiers in private homes (which was then not allowed by the Third Amendment).

        He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

        Hm, appointing unfair judges for life... Based on the will of ~0.000033667% of the people? Sound familiar?

        But that's not at all the same. The judges being objected to weren't appointed for life. They were appointed to serve at the pleasure of the King. That's a very different circumstance. Hence the phrasing " on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices."

        And of course almost all your objections ignore the fact that these events have all occurred with the consent of the legislator you voted for. That's very different then when things occur by an unelected monarch and a parliament which one can't vote.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)

          You are missing the point here. The primary objection is "kept among us"- this is an objection to quartering soldiers in private homes (which was then not allowed by the Third Amendment).

          So rather than having to quarter soldiers we instead have to pay expensive monetary fees to support our imperialistic presence in almost every single country. Another main difference is that the soldiers granted by the king not only were supposed to keep the colonists in line but also to protect them against the very real threat of native American attack rather than the very vague "threat" of "terrorism" and "drugs".

          So yes, we no longer have to house soldiers in our home, we have to essentially "house

        • by selven (1556643) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @07:05PM (#32789080)

          And of course almost all your objections ignore the fact that these events have all occurred with the consent of the legislator you voted for. That's very different then when things occur by an unelected monarch and a parliament which one can't vote.

          The legislator I voted for? What if I voted against him and he still inflicted all the aforementioned infringements on freedom on me? There's nothing less wrong about having your rights taken away because 52% of the population like it that way than because one person likes it that way - your rights are gone either way. Democracy is supposed to prevent rights from being taken away in the first place, not to justify their removal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anubis IV (1279820)
        I'm not going to argue all of the points, either because I do agree with some, I'm simply uninformed, or I am apathetic. That said, I take issue with your characterization of the following ones.

        ...the Present King of Great-Britain...has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

        Hm, sound like the immigration mess we have today?

        Nope. There's a big difference between a foreign power limiting immigration to a region, and the people of that region limiting immigration to it. We enjoy the latter today. I wouldn't say it's anything like the former.

        He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

        Sound familiar? DEA, Homeland Security, etc.?

        When was the last time you had to feed or house a federal agent against your will? For that matter,

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          When was the last time you had to feed or house a federal agent against your will?

          The last time I received a paycheck and a sum of money was removed to pay federal agents. Trust me, I'd rather keep that than have my "property" taken to pay federal agents against my will. I understand your point. And you either miss the point or are being deliberately obtuse. It's not that they are being done today exactly as they were then, but that the complaints themselves are valid in regards to todays government,
  • Very interesting. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by doomcup (1756450) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:10PM (#32788124)
    If I recall correctly, they still considered themselves subjects of Britain that were being mistreated, but I can see why Jefferson changed it. It would be admitting that they were seceeding from a legitimate rule despite their grievances. And it's pretty cool how they found this too.
    • Re:Very interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:42PM (#32788298)

      Yeah, in that era "citizen" had strong republican (i.e. anti-monarchist) connotations, which would be made even clearer in the revolution a few years later in France, where "Citizen so-and-so" became the common mode of greeting (to emphasize that all titles were abolished, replaced by a single title, "Citizen", that everyone possessed), and was featured prominently in such texts as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen [wikipedia.org].

      I don't believe it had quite as radical a connotation in 1776, but it was still a clear shift from "grievances of subjects who feel their king is unjust" (which was the sentiment of some of the colonists) to a more explicit declaration of anti-monarchism.

  • The editing of the word "subject" emphasizes the founders care to make sure that the US government be of the people, that we should not be subject to any tyranny but rather citizens with representation. Good time of year for the reminder.
  • Morphing (Score:5, Funny)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:16PM (#32788162) Journal

    Tthe task was made more difficult by the way Jefferson sought to match the lines and curves of the underlying smudged letters with the new letters he wrote on top of them.

    "It's quite amazing how he morphed 'subjects' into 'citizens,' " she said. "We did the reverse morphing back to 'subjects.' "

    Figures. The government has been trying to do that for years ...

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:34PM (#32788248)
    Since the actual ability within the populace to write went missing years ago (image the Constitution as a tweet), and since today's culture may not know this, let me be reiterate that the document was 'drafted', meaning the author wrote and thought at the same time. It used to be a common practice to write a statement, and then to consider it in context with the expectation that changes were likely to occur. This doesn't mean he f'd up or someone was holding a gun to his head forcing him to change his mind.

    Thinking about what you write and why and how it should be cached for your audience used to be a worthwhile goal.
    • by hitmark (640295)

      the constitution tweet would be a shortened url pointing to a pdf of the actual document.

  • The Irony is.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tangential (266113) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:36PM (#32788256) Homepage
    Now we have made the transition from Citizens back to Subjects of our Federal Empire. In many cases we can't even travel within our own state's boundaries without having to present our identification and travel papers to a Federal Officer and get their permission to make the trip. We could probably solve the energy crisis if we could tap into the founding fathers continuous spinning in their graves....
    • by insufflate10mg (1711356) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:56PM (#32788392)
      LOL, really? When has a "Federal Officer" ever stopped you as you were travelling within the state and asserted his authority to make you turn around and go home?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tangential (266113)
        They demand my 'papers' any time I arrived at the Atlanta airport to fly to Savannah or anywhere else in Georgia. If I fail to produce ID that satisfies the Federal Official, I don't travel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      The founding fathers (particularly Jefferson) knew that this would happen, from including the second amendment which, contrary to popular belief didn't give us the right to bear arms because the founding fathers wanted us to go deer hunting but rather as a last resort to oppose government force. In fact Jefferson was reported to say that every generation needed its own revolution along with quotes such as

      The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

      and

      I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and incumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. Then, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.

      The founding fathers knew that this apathy would happen because it did, it was the entire reason

    • by religious freak (1005821) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @06:06PM (#32788746)
      I really despise this type of hyperbole.

      When you compare something like a security checkpoint prior to plane boarding (which is what you're trying to refer to here, I assume?) to something like being a subject of your government, you really dilute the value of making such a comparison in the future.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tangential (266113)
        Well, First, I think using the term 'security' in relation to a TSA checkpoint shows an incredible level of naivete. They exist for theatre and pacification of the ignorant masses (and of course to keep TSA personnel employed) but not in reality for security. Second, its a incredibly valid example of the Federal government's steady push to supercede the rights and responsibilities of the states, just like the Department of Education, FDA, etc... None of these has any basis in the Constitution. There's no
  • by jayveekay (735967) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:41PM (#32788292)

    How would history be different if the paragraph condemning the evil of slavery had been kept in the declaration, instead of being removed?

    From Wikipedia: "although Jefferson had included a paragraph in his initial draft that strongly indicted Britain's role in the slave trade, this was deleted from the final version"

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:47PM (#32788336)
      If he kept in the paragraph banning slavery, we probably would have 13 independent countries rather than any sort of union, especially for the southern states which required the extra labor for agriculture. The founding fathers all had to make compromises in order to get the thing passed, otherwise we would still be a confederacy of independent states. (No, I'm not talking about the CSA, I'm talking about having 13 independent nations with a loose affiliation)
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)

        ROFL, wow, interesting take... the south favoured slavery, not because they were filthy bigots who felt Africans were inferior, but simply because the poor bastards "required the extra labor for agriculture".

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:34PM (#32788618)
          Right, because we all know how the north loved their Africans right? Everyone thought that the African race was inferior to the European races whether in the north, south, in Europe, etc. for quite some time.
        • by westlake (615356) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @06:27PM (#32788872)

          ROFL, wow, interesting take... the south favoured slavery, not because they were filthy bigots who felt Africans were inferior, but simply because the poor bastards "required the extra labor for agriculture".

          The abolition of slavery moved very slowly even in the North.

          The percentage of colonists - all races and both sexes - who arrived as slaves, prisoners, or more or less voluntarily indentured servants, was around 1/3.

          1777 Vermont Republic (constitution)
          1780 Pennsylvania "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery" Frees adult children of slaves born after 1780.
          1783 Massachusetts (judicial decision - state constitutional law)
          1783 -1784 New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island (children of slaves) (statute)
          1799 -1804 New York, New Jersey (children of slaves) (statute)
          1817 New York - emancipation for all slaves on July 4, 1827
          1827 New York Children born of slaves between 1799 and 1827 are indentured until age 25 (females) or age 28 (males)
          1847 Slavery ends in Pennsylvania. Those born before 1780 are freed - perhaps 100 surviving.

          Abolition of slavery timeline [wikipedia.org]

          From the beginning, the plantation South was raising labor-intensive, non-edible, non-perishable, crops for the export trade. It was one of the few sources of hard currency - gold and silver - the colonies possessed. Which matters if you are seriously bent on waging a war against Great Britain.

    • by seyyah (986027) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:38PM (#32788630)

      Just this morning I was listening to an interview with a Jefferson historian who explained that Jefferson was unable to find a solution to the slavery issue. He realised that his lack of opposition to slavery would be a negative part of his legacy. For the interested: New Books in History [newbooksinhistory.com].

  • Back in the UK ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by TopSpin (753) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @04:44PM (#32788316) Journal

    ... citizens stopped being 'subjects' in 1983, apparently.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Nationality_Act_1981 [wikipedia.org]

  • We'd more expect this kind of thing from Adams, Washington, or others on the Federalist side of the first party system.

  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:07PM (#32788452) Homepage

    And in recent times, citizens are referred to as "consumers"; those who don't consume, effectively don't exist.

    To digress a bit, but related to this topic, many organizations, instead of saying they offer programs / activities / education, now often just use the word "programming" - seems very Orwellian to me.

    Ron

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:22PM (#32788534)
    No doubt it was changed because someone pointed out to Jefferson that it was grammatically incorrect. Or rather, simply the incorrect word to use, by definition.

    People at the time were used to referring to themselves as "subjects" of the English king. But if you no longer have a king, then you are no longer a subject. There is no need to assume it is any more complicated than that.
    • Doggone it, I keep hitting the button too soon. Anyway, it is known that Franklin advised Jefferson on the wording. Likely it was his doing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03, 2010 @05:28PM (#32788576)

    "that rare first draft of the constitution with the word "suckers" in it."

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

Working...