Let’s face it: Grammar, especially the nuances of punctuation marks, is not everybody’s favorite subject.
Nevertheless, the placement of one tiny squiggle can make or break the essential meaning of an historic document. That is why historians are still quibbling over whether or not Jefferson’s pen popped a period after the famous phrase “pursuit of Happiness.”
If his “unalienable Rights” sentence ends with “Happiness,” then Jefferson likely prioritized individual rights over governmental roles. If the word “Happiness” was directly followed by a dash, then Jefferson likely wished to equalize individual and societal rights. So the debate goes…
Why doesn’t someone just whip out a copy of the original and settle things once and for all? According to Abby Ohlheiser of Wire, the 1776 original “is in really, really bad shape.” Although stored in a “complex
preservation system along with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution,” the Declaration of Independence has seen better days.
Apparently, in more ways than one…
Copyright July 5, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved