The Revolution Clause: Untouched from the start

DEC. OF INDEP. 1This is an image of an original draft of the top section of the Declaration of Independence. The handwriting is Thomas Jefferson’s. The corrections are in his own handwriting, as well as in the handwriting of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. It’s about as original as you can get.

Notice which collection of words remained untouched as a block in this draft. I’ve highlighted it for you, in black and white. Indeed, this passage made it through every revision, and is contained word for word in the final draft signed on July 4, 1776.

It is the revolution clause. Here is the full text from the final draft:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 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.

I couldn’t make it more black and white than that.

declarationdraft_large-clipThe Revolution Clause

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