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tv   Discussion on Textual Tradition and the Declaration of Independence  CSPAN  July 11, 2015 10:30am-11:53am EDT

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it has been extraordinary the way they have jumped in to support my efforts to bring more attention to the question of how we read the declaration of independence and how we think about the diversity of the text's today shin. -- tradition. we are focusing really intently on the second sentence of the declaration of independence. with my few moments here, i'm going to introduce that second sentence of the declaration to you. say a few things about it and invite age of my panelists to expand based on their areas of expertise. we will each speak for about 12 minutes. that should leave good time for questions from all of you. i understand we may have some questions coming in over e-mail or twitter possibly. i am not your how that works comedy but somebody will. that will become magically clear at the relevant point. let's me, as i said, we introduce all of you to the
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second sentence of the declaration of independence. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are crated equal, they are endowed by their crater with certain unalienable rights. among these are life, liberty and the bridges of happiness. -- the pursuit of happiness. uit of happiness. governments are instituted among men. whenever any form of government becomes detruktive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government, laying its f i expect that all of you are not surprised by how long the sentence is. but as i have gone around the country talking about the declaration over and over again people have expressed surprise at just how long the sentence is. it is important to recognize that there are two moment happiness appears in the sentence.
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we are talking about individual rights and down at the end of the sentence when we come to the people's responsibility for organizing government in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their shared or collective safety and happiness. it establishes an important balance between the individual and what is shared for all of us. if you look at the sentence, you realize the five classes all start with "that." all dependent on that opening clause. but as we spend more time with it, even, we come to realize the sentence is making an argument. we begin to see that as a theory of revolution in the sentence. more significantly, we even see there is a very specific logical structure underneath the sentence. a structure that philosophers would identify as -- [indiscernible] i would like to remind everybody of exec or what that is to help us to go about what is going on in the sentence.
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the conventional example is, in fact, a premise and a conclusion, which conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. i like to use bill gates instead of socrates because these days people have -- take the first premise, bill gates is a human being. we know that simply by observation. it is a basic fact. the second premise all human beings are mortal. we also know that based on empirical observation. and so we can draw to the conclusion that bill gates is mortal. despite our grand perception of him. so that is that and it that is the a structure -- that is the underlying structure of the sentence. it means they have been endowed by their creator with
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unalienable rights. those three clauses belong together as a single premise. they then lead us to the second premise, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of govern. and then a big conclusion. that whenever government don't do this basic job of securing the rights that were in the first premise people need to change those governments so they do do their job. now, a philosopher practicing with a phd from a philosophy department would also insist there is a missing part. that all people have a right whatever they need to secure. it really is a logic argument. it is important to stress the structure underneath the sentence because it is something that those went to school in the
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18th century learned about. this is a page from a book by isaac watts if you go into any church today and pick up a hymnal and flip through, you will see an incredible number of hymns that were written by watts. how does the busy little bee -- and he also wrote this handbook on logick, which was published in england originally, but by 17 89, had already gone through 16 editions. and you will see from this page, as he begins to describe what you do in logic, that a syllogism is joining several propositions together and produces an argument that we want to infer from something that is left known -- lesser-known. and it is perfectly connected to the use of syllogisms in 18th
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century argumentative practice and writerly practice. so, why is it that when this argument is as important as it is -- it gives us a theory of revolution -- we have lost sight of that. the entirety of the argument. and i say that because we have i differs textual tradition for the declaration. we have multiple verses of the text. let me start with the latest. that is the national archives -- there we go. we can summarize. to make it as simple as possible. all people have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. properly -- and all people have a right to a properly constituted government. again, why is it that we lose track of that whole argument?
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if you go to the national archives' website and pull up a trench option of the declaration, you get a text that has a after happiness -- has a period after happiness. and there is a good reason for this. last summer, i sat behind a group of high school kids that read out a copy of the declaration that had this period in it. they turned around and they walked away. they didn't finish reading the sentence. and for good reason, a get because we teach kids that a period completes a thought. so when you get to a period you are supposed to thought and understand that complete thought. it shortchanges people in terms of giving them access to that whole argument that i just showed you. of course, it is not simply from google that this comes, it comes
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from a long tradition. when you look at a closing, you realize it has that same period after pursuit of happiness. right there. that is from 1823. and that text has been a basic text since 1823. it is what we look to because it is legible. it has that great advantage of being beautiful and legible. but what about -- [indiscernible] there is a mark after "pursuit of happiness." it is hard to tell whether it is a period or a comma. how would we answer this question -- what would we do about this mystery? humanity give us tools of the allergy. to try and figure out one text from the next would to have on it. we also have new humanities these days, the capacity to use instrumentation, which can
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analyze the chemical formulation of ink on parchment or paper and figure out layers and how long they have been there. both of these are tools that we can use to make sense of what is on the parchment. as far as old humanity is concerned, we have seven manuscripts of the declaration. we have congress's corrected book. jefferson was and tried to the committee overseeing publications in the summer of 1776. the first official printing punctuated as a single sentence. the first text to use theperiod was an unauthorized -- the pe riod was an unauthorized newspaper printing. looks how different this looks in his newspaper when you get this printing on july 6. it circulated all over the colonies. right from the get go, from july 6 onwards, we have those versions circulating in the colonies. that would mean the whole
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argument accessible, that which focused on the individual rights. two new humanities, we will hear more about this from the panel but this is a little example we will probably see again from the work done at the library of congress. where after the imaging, it was possible to see that the word "citizens" had originally been written subjects. this is the kind of thing that new technologies can help us to do. what does that leave us? let me conclude and headed over to my colleagues simply by saying it leaves us with a diverse sexual tradition. there is not one text of the declaration. we start with john dunlap and have four official printing. there are posted commissions by congress. then we have thompson's manuscript. and we have the parchment where we can't tell.
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that is our mystery tax. and then generally, 1777, we have a printing permission -- permitted by congressp. she puts theeriod -- after pursuit of -- the eriod after -- the period after the pursuit of happiness. we have a diverse textual tradition. i will hand it over at this point. seth: thank you. as a dealer in historic documents and a collection builder, i often start at the end of there is ink on a piece of paper or parchment that i have to look at and figure out,
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is it real, what does it mean? is it valuable historically or monetarily? here, with any documents, we've got all of the knowledge and all of the experience that led authors or scribes to put pen on that medium. this particular document, the declaration, i have a personal history with. because i can say that i got into the history field because of a trip i took nearly 40 years ago to the national archives. and looking at the declaration of independence, i, a somewhat bored student in school, was inspired by american history. and the power of that document. and i saw the declaration itself deprived of ownership that i hope every american and even
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every human being can feel by reading the text from that document. let's see if i can get to my powerpoint. i may need a little help with that. just to find the right powerpoint. or i could give daniels speech again. -- danielle's speech again. >> [laughter] seth: ok. i would add that it showed four official versions. >> [indistinct chatter] seth: ok.
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great. so, i'm going to talk about preserving the image and proclaiming the news of independence. so starting more at the present but then going back. and this is what we have today at the end. the declaration and grossed manuscript. the people still think of as the original, but it wasn't something that existed on july 4 or july 2, when america declared its independence. but this is what we see today. and this is created by the copperplate engraving by william j stone. johnson adams, who was secretary of state, or did it to be done in 1820. he noted that from handling, from people walking into the office and saying i would like to see the declaration of independence, it was already
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deteriorating. and also, there had been a couple of not facsimiles, but decorative effects that were done in 1819, 1822 showcase the declaration of independence. this was just after the war of 1812 where america's independence was really confirmed. actually, i am going to go back and just point to a couple of things on this because as there are mostly scholars in the audience, i know there are some people watching online and their first caught is probably, is it real? -- thought is probably, i have a declaration of independence, is it real? the first thing to look at is this little imprint up here and up there. the second edition would have one, the smaller stone, right down there. so this is a decorative print.
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it is still very valuable because there were only 200 copies that were ordered. someone printed it 201 that he kept, and there were some scandal when people realized that although that was the common practice. his family solved it by donating that copy to the smithsonian. and danielle asked me to consider the declaration engrossed manuscript and the stone manuscript and to talk about the process of the creation because there is this story that stone took the original manuscript, which he had for about three years, and used a chemical process to lift ink off of the original to -- as a basis for his plate from which he engraved -- he engraved the copperplate from which the declaration was then struck. and if that were the case, it would tell us certain things
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about the exactness of the manuscript and the stone plate which then we would know would be more original and away. because you can't see the engrossed manuscript now, but if you're looking at an exact chemical aged copy that lifted income the original, then it really does connect very deeply paired what i found is that it is a very difficult question to answer. and i will show you why. this is from the engrossed manuscript. that is from the copperplate that is on display here now. this is from a paper printing of this stone with the first edition. this is from the second edition. and we have tried to compare different points in each of those to see if they tell us whether the chemical process was used and how exact this don't
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declaration is. we have found some interesting things, like this little mark here. a hickey it is exley called, exists on some of the declarations, not at all. we don't know if that was on the original and faithfully copied or if that was created in the zinc of the plate and was then copied in every subsequent edition. so there is a few points where we actually have enough information to make any real conclusions. this is a blowup of the initial "the" in the declaration. we have helped it a little bit here with contrast. i will compare it to the stone declaration. which is obviously much more visible. now if you look at the two together, we find some interesting points. number one this does not exist,
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as far as we can tell, on the manuscript. and as far as we can tell, and never did. and that would just be the engraver's help really. the stone might have added -- but engraver's whenever make an exact copy without adding some little mark that shows that this is their engraving of it. there is also this very clear line here in the stone. and a heart-shaped line in the manuscript. what does that tell us? it tells us, basically that stone may not have used the chemical process. he was one of the finest engravers of his day. he was exley hired by john quincy adams to produce beautifully crafted maps,
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passports, and other things that the government needed. and he had the original for up to three years. so, a master engraver could actually create such a plate by hand using may be a tracing, but without needing a chemical process. so my summary of that point is that i would not assume that he used a chemical process. the first notice that i have heard that stated that he did was about 1904. and i think that was an assumption because i don't think there's any evidence that was used to base that, except the look. oh, this document is so deteriorated. and we know, especially by 1904 that there are these processes i can be used to lift ink of the original to make the plate therefore that stone is legit. but i'm showing this french printing -- after all, they helped make the declaration of independence come true by
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helping us achieve our freedom -- this is a french printing from about 1804. and, if you look at it, it looks a lot like the stone in grieving. -- stone engraving. if you look a little more closely, though, the stop of -- the top of that french engraving looks very much like the stone. but as you get further along the engraver is running out of time because he has to do this for a book that is going to be published and he starts doing it very quickly. now you'll notice that he even forgets to cross a lot of tees -- t's and dot a lot of i's. if you are looking at the stone declaration, you might assume that they were both created in the same process. and you might have assumed, also, that this was based on either a stone or
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next-generation printing, when in fact, this couldn't have been diabetic chemical process because if it had been, all of the t's would have been crossed and all the i's would have been dotted. so this has improved since stone at his engraving by hand, but it is certainly an indication that he could have. since i don't really have an answer to the question i was asked here for, i figured i would bring a lot of couple of other questions, though, because we have such a distinguished room. this is one of the stone declarations. there were 201 printed. roughly 52 are now known. this is one of three that has a presentation on the bottom. presented by the honorable john quincy adams, secretary of state. interestingly, two of the three that are inscribed -- the two
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that are legible -- are not on congress's official list. the are both in maryland. so, could the secretary of state have been giving these out maybe for political purposes? maryland was one of those states whose vote for the presidency when he was running against john quincy adams was a really known and maryland did the trend and support -- buck the trend and it support john quincy adams. but another thing that is with pointing out his of the 52 that are known, those do not include the copies that we know we given to thomas jefferson john adams, james madison, james monroe. so if you are taking in an institutional collection, be on the lookout and maybe you will
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make that great discovery. here is another copy of the stone first edition. this is the third when i mentioned being inscribed. but we can't read the inscription. that is down there. and so, i am hoping that ron will he talk about imaging, that this is the kind of project that might be looked at also. this is presented by the honorable john quincy adams which we have looked at under lights and technology, infrared, ultraviolet that we have, and i know that that is written by john quincy adams, unlike the others do. but we cannot tell who it was inscribed to. so that is a question i would love to get back to. and this is another engraving by benjamin tyler from 18 -- 1818. one reason i bring it up your --
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i bring it up your, with this, benjamin tyler -- this decorative engraving of the declaration, john quincy adams remember was pointing out that the declaration was already significantly faded by the time he gave it to william stone. he blamed the creation of this engraving for a lot of the deterioration. and it did, in fact, infect the ink certainly guess he used it to create the ink, but we don't know if chemical process or from the display. but i'm going to go back very quickly because there are more questions that we can see looking at other documents. this is the dunlop printing of the declaration. the first printing, july 4. and this is the pennsylvania evening post, the first newspaper printing on july 6.
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we noticed many differences and we will talk about that on a later panel in punctuation of them. particularly the capital letters. that are within sentences. not at the beginning of a sentence where they belong, but used for style. and i want to go into depth about this, but this is a jefferson handwritten draft and a adams handwritten draft. one thing that we found is that we think, at least, that john adams, not jefferson, was the one who went to dunlop with a manuscript on july 4 and we think jefferson went to town on july 6 with his draft. here you have a broadside printing. a broadside is a single printed page with information only on one side. this is the press release of its day. it was meant to share news. it was meant to proclaim, to get the word out.
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and each of these broadsides a different. that is from salem. this is actually by the same printer in the american gazette newspaper. he made just a couple of adjustments and kept most of the typesetting impact. this is the same declaration. this printer exley had a different broadside. -- actually had a different broadside. then you have the dunlop, the official printing sent by congress. and he we did it to follow that style integrating the official printing in massachusetts. here is another newspaper printing, july 17, which we acquired last week. but why july 17? we think about using instantaneous, but actually it took a great deal of time for news to get from philadelphia to
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boston to the capital of massachusetts, which was actually in -- [indiscernible] so each of these different printings tell us something about the creation of the declaration. and they all have little interesting things like this. thompson being spelled wrong or differently. but among other spellings that were not as regularized as they are today, or names, even. the last image that i'm going to show is one of the official printings. this is from the journals of congress. from 1776. it was actually started to be printed in 1877 -- 1777, but then with the arrival of the british troops, congress had to hightail it out of philadelphia and this printing wasn't done. pages one through 124 were.
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congress, when they settled in yorktown pennsylvania or did john dunlop, the first printer of the declaration, to finish the job. he had managed to get his press out of philadelphia while they can manage to get -- aiken managed to get the first 124 pages out, but not his press. this includes the name of the signers of the declaration of independence, but none of the 1776 printings do that because those names were not released. and even now, a great student of history might even know the names of all the signers. if they read this journal of congress, they are going to find one missing. thomas, who didn't sign it until 1781. some of the other signers, whose names are here on it now, were there, but not there on august
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2. so these original documents all add more to the story. i personally would love to see the multispectral imaging done not because i think it is going to answer the question about punctuation, the reason that i'm showing so many of these documents is that i don't think the answer is in one place. but i do think it should be looked at because the declaration of independence maybe doesn't have a treasure map in it, that it really is a treasure map and i love the way that danielle is using it to teach not only american history and about our independence, but also to teach creative and critical thinking. and some of the thinking that was used by the founders of our nation. so i am going to stop this by pointing out a friend of mine was here is here -- is here and
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he had a similar story to my of a granddaughter when he -- she was 11, taking her to the national archives. and the granddaughter looked at it and told him, it's so faded. my grandmother has a better copy. >> [laughter] seth: ande i am going tond -- with a thought -- and i am going to end with a thought that any family we has a copy that they can study and read and look at on their own, and knowing how it was written and how to read it and how different people read it is all part of the great importance of this document. there is a little more information from people, people who are looking at, in particular, on my website, that is, there are
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printings you can download for free in printout. and examples of other printings of the declaration of independence. and i thank you for having me here. >> [applause]
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>> good morning. my role today relates to mechanics, not interpretation. what we do, what we are seeing there i will lead to others because there are many talented people who will be looking at that. much of what we know about the creation was worked out by julian boyd, the founding of a tour -- editor. in 1943, -- subsequently for the publication of volume one for our publication in 1950. he spoke and wrote about it at various other times as well. boyd was an authority on the declaration of independence, but he also helped showed the writing was a collaborative process. in a broad sense, boyd wrote in
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the 1943 exhibit, he authored the declaration of independence with the american people. now, boyd also was dealing largely with mechanics and they succession of texts and working at the manuscript sequence. and so one thing that a lot of work has been done on since boyd, a lot of very good, interesting work on is the sources for that collaborative efforts. what lay behind, what ended up in that text. professor alan -- allen was asking us to do so. we have come a long ways from 1726 in our industry. we are currently intensely working on 1804. and professor allen knows more
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about the declaration of independence than those of us working on it now. but she was interested in something i could be of assistance with, which is taking a fresh look at the transcription of the parchment. i spent my career doing close work with a large number of manuscripts of 18th and 19th century america. this is what documentary editors do. i am here as someone who has squinted at a lot of punctuation in handwritten documents. some of you may have known the late john simon, who is editor of the ulysses s. grant papers who once at a podium like this only semi-facetiously boiled the editor's real tax into is a day comma or is it a -- it a comma or is it a period?
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so, that is the essential dilemma today. the challenges of reading side parchment. you've seen it earlier this morning, you will see it more during the day, i'm sure. what we see here and out in the rotunda is the result of an order by congress on july 19, 1776. that the declaration be fairly engrossed on parchment and signed by every member. that order confirmed that this was meant to be an authoritative copy of the document, perhaps the authoritative copy. although this may be hard to understand looking at the documents now, they used parchment to give it for minutes. now, if you talk about -- to someone who deals with medieval documents that are on parchment they have held up better than this has.
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which, i think perhaps raises a question as to whether there was some flaw in the preparation of the parchment because the service had to be prepared a certain way or something about the egg -- ink. maybe it was just a mold by being viewed that much, but a large number of documents in europe that go back many centuries have held up better. preparation of parchment and drink things on parchment was not as much of a craft in the american colonies, of course, as it would have been in the scrabble traditions and the craft traditions in europe from earlier. really engrossed means -- a term that goes back quite a while -- it means written in a large, clear hand. the term engrossed in back several centuries referenced official copies of legal documents. and fairly meaning in a fair hand, without flaw, pretty legible.
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in this case, the handwriting was that of timothy. and we will hear more about him later. and another thing that gives this text authority for us and makes it important for us to try and get the breast transcription of it we can is, of course, the fact that they signed it. for us, for americans, the signing of the declaration is the great acts, or they pledged themselves to this declaration. and, so, in many respects then in addition -- although there are other copies that -- other texts that one could consider to be official, this was for most americans, the official version of the declaration. but, of course, because it is such -- it is in such bad shape
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reliance has been put on the avatar, or what we might call the stunt double, in the form of the engraving. now, mr. kaller has kindly pointed out to me that my illustrations are from the second edition of the grazing. by peter in 1843? >> yes. james: but he also assures me -- >> [laughter] james: it is very legible, it is very pretty. it will give us good contrast here. and when you look at it, of course, it makes sense to try and use the engraving as the stand-in for the manuscript, for the document on parchment. even julian boyd did that for volume one of the jefferson papers. but in his case, he was using this as the last text of the process.
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he was not as interested in it because by that point, jefferson's individual involvement had become more diffused. he just wanted to have a text of it. so he didn't use the stone engraving. he did say that he was doing that. and the volume, it states very clearly that, yes, it is the parchment, but the readings are from stone's engraving. he also didn't have the kind of high resolution photos that we have, that we can digitally zoom in on and magnify and really see what is going on in the details. it would be possible to do a transcription from the high resolution photographs in a way that when it be possible earlier. but, as we know, for all of its evident faithfulness, the engraving is not in exact duplicate -- an exact duplicate
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in all regards. it is important to think of the stone engraving as really an act of interpretation. if i were slicker with my visuals, right now, the left image would dissolve into a photograph of a can of soup, and the right image would dissolve to antiwar house painting of the can of soup. -- into andy warhol's painting of the can of soup. now, this is not to reject the notion that we need in avatar. my hope and expectation is that through sophisticated further imaging, we are going to be able to get the digital engraving, if you will, of the engrossed parchment. and it will give us a digital
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image that has better contrast and can really be red and can perhaps for the 21st century replace the stone engraving. so that when those school kids buy their replicas of the declaration of independence, it can be based on our modern digital engraving. rather than the engravings of the 1820's. but for now, in order to address the question of punctuation, we can look at the, we can use the high resolution photo and see what we can see. let's look at some punctuation. i have not done anything with the contrast of the photo. all i have done is human to you can see it. i wouldn't particularly know what i was doing, so we will do it this way. so, here is that -- really the
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key part for the declaration. and, as you have seen before, as professor allen showed you, right there is the piece of punctuation we are interested in , after pursuit of happiness. this piece of punctuation hollowed by adash -- a dash. the question is, is it a period or is it a comma? so here is the representation in the engraving showing the period and then a dash. here it is again highlighting the section. i want to call your attention to in this little cut, this detail here. there are two other places where there are dashes. this one is after the separation. that one is indisputably a period.
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so you can take a look at what that looks like and then compare it to happiness there. and this one is after consent of the governed. and that one is indisputably rendered as a comma. in the stone engraving and in other treatments of this text. so, we have one that is a definite period, one that is a definite comma and then we have pursuit of happiness can of in between. as professor allen has pointed out, note that the dash after the period is a much longer, boulder dash for whatever that might tell us. -- bolder dash for whatever that might tell us. so, here are some period-dash combinations from the engrossed parchment.
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and you can -- you can get some idea of what are the criteria for a period. they tend to be fairly heavy fairly round. there is a fair amount of ink on the page. so after separation, this is what we have. and in other places in the declaration. taking the engrossed parchment on its own terms, looking just at punctuation that we see there. now, let's look at some commas. they are harder to see and that is why i have had them with cuts from the engraving. partly just as a map so you can find where the, as even our. -- commas even are. they are fainter, have a little bit of a slant to them, but they are not necessarily very long. from what you can see on the parchment, they can be pretty stopb -- stubby, but they don't
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have that round, heavy look you see with a definite period. here, in fact, if you look, if you find down on the engraving and then look up after self-evident and a particularly after all men are created equal that is a comma but if you didn't know otherwise, you might read that as a period. but there was no occasion for that to be misread as it seems there is with the period as we know. so the -- the gist of things seems to be, looking at the parchment, that periods tend not to be ambiguous. commas can be very ambiguous. does that mean that in and biggest piece of punctuation is more likely a comma than a pe riod? perhaps.
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now, the scribe of the parchment was timothy, who was a very colloquial person. if you look at certain parts of him, you would say there is no way this person could be the scribe of the declaration of independence. he was -- he attended cockfights, he was -- he got into a street fight with someone over politics. he seemed like a very rough and ready person. however, as a young man, as a youth really, he was an apprentice in a commercial office. and had done a lot of scribal work and continued to do that through his life. even when he was a political leader and a military leader. he actually lifted his profession in the 1790 census as a scribner. so this is his handwriting, just for an ordinary letter. there is another one from 1779.
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this was from 1807, but you see her again that pattern of the periods and thecomma -- the commas we read the periods. more quickly and easily than the commas. there is another example. you can see the handwriting is slightly different from what you see on the engrossed parchment. that is because skilled calligraphers, if you will scribes, clerks, could have different hands that they used for different occasions. using his special declaration of independence engrossed parchment had for that document, but as you can see, he has a very lovely script. even when he is just writing to thomas jefferson in 1807. so, that brings us back here, we have taken this little walk
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through some of the punctuation. what do we do with, again, that piece of punctuation? i -- i tend to read that as a comma, not as a period. i think there is a very good chance it isn't a comma. i cannot account for why it shows up as a period in stone's engravings. he may have had one of the printed versions at hand to help them out with the fainter parts but i think it is as likely a comma as a period. but i have presented this for you to draw your own conclusion. if you look here, i will just finish with this. since we are talking about pugs waiting happiness, the top -- punctuating happiness the top is the happiness we have been looking at. the bottom is the second use of
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the word happiness. that is an undisputed period. the question remains, what is following happiness up there at the top? thank you. >> [applause] >> [indistinct chatter] richard: well, one of the lessons i think we should certainly learn from danielle's
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book interest in progress on the declaration is that we have to look very carefully, indeed, at every word in that document and not just that woods, but at commas, periods, and dashes. i'm going to try and provide you with a general historical context in which the founding fathers composed, revised and then had printed the founding document. i'm going to talk not just about the in -- declaration, but about the articles of confederation and the constitution. and i'm going to make for claims -- four claims. the first is that -- printing conventions in england in the middle decades of the 18th century changed rather significantly. roughly between 1740 and 1780. these changes in the
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presentation of texts, the heavy capitalization of, nouns, the heavy use of italics and caps, changes in these conventions. in fact, it has produced the modern page in english. the page that we are familiar with every time we pick up a book or nsa. my third claim is that printers in the american colonies in boston, new york, and philadelphia followed the changing practice of their colleagues in london. and finally, i'm going to argue that these changes in printing conventions had their impact had an influence on the founding documents that we have been talking about.
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now, how did i get into this business of looking at changes in printing conventions in the first place check in 1974, i began work on a dissertation at princeton, which was the scholarly edition of the works that william collins, an 18th-century poet. what you are looking at is his first independently published poem, which was entitled " -- [indiscernible] and you are looking at the first page. you will see, very clearly, i think -- if you look at the text itself, he is a tele-sizing. maids is capitalized. poets is capitalized. and so forth. this is a very traditional text in the context of the 1740's. and this is what i call the old style in printing. 15 years later in 1757, this
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poem was reissued as oriental -- and if you look again at the body of the text, you will see that persian is not any longer in italics. and that all of those, nouns are now in a lowercase. so this juxtaposition really shows, i think, what happened within a surely fair -- within a fairly short period of time. on the right hand, you have what i call the new style. the modern style, which with we are familiar today. so, let's look at 1700. on the right to begin with. here is a book that has been printed in london and it is fairly handsomely printed by the standards of the day. it has two large text blocks,
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which makes it a little bit difficult to work through but for the most part, i think it reads easily enough. but if you look carefully at the actual capitalization and a tele-cessation, you will see -- italicization, you will see that it is a much in the old style. if you look on the left, from the same year, a book printed in paris, you are going to see a text that is completely modern. and not just modern in terms of its italics and capitalization, but also in the fact that the printer here has taken the time to work with some printer devices in two places on the same page. it is elegant, it makes more use of the white space, and in fact it becomes a kind of template for what english and eventually american printing is going to look like. so that late in the 18th
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century, we can look at a text -- i him giving you the "man of the world" here -- and if you didn't know what this was, it could be a text printed in london or new york in 1960 when 1970 because the complete works -- that addition looks almost -- edition looks almost entirely like this text of the late 18th century. so the abandonment of heavy capitalization, the rational use of italics andcaps -- and caps are all part of this movement towards the small page. and john bell -- we essentially have the page with which we are familiar today.
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now, over the last many years, i have looked at over 2000 books published in london between 1740 and 1780. this is my summary, and percentages. take a look at the year 1740 to begin with. in the old style 91% of the books -- and we are talking about over 150 copies just for this one year. new style, just nine. and a can of mixture of the two absolutely nothing. if you move just five years later, you can see that there is a shift. fewer books are being published in the old style. you are getting fewer in the new style, but you are beginning to get this mixture. and if you move down to 1765, which i have placed in bold, for the first time, you are getting a majority of texts printed in the new style.
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so it is only 34% in the old 42% in the new. and i think quite significantly, 24% now are in this mixed style. and then there is extreme acceleration. if you compare 1740 with 1780 91% and 9% in 1740 70%, you have complete reversal in the way english text were printed. and at the bottom, i show you looking at 1700 not at 1740 let alone 1765, paris, madrid rome, look at those percentages. they are almost all completely and what i call the new style. what happened here in the united states? in 1750 in the books i have taken a look at, a large sample from the library of congress,
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86% were printed in the old style. that is more than in london. a higher percentage. and fewer, 10% in the new style. and not many in what i call this mixed style. by 1765, however, we are down to 31% against 34% in london. and 66% in the new style against 42% in london. so the acceleration was even faster, even greater in the colonies than it was in london itself. so, it is within this context in which we might take a rather broader look at some of these founding documents. i'm showing you jeffersons rot draft. i just want to remind you that not only did he abandon capitalization when it came to nouns, but he also did so with a
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number of other important words, king creator, nature is god. beyond that he decided not to capitalize the first letter of the first word in most of the sentences in this document. so what he actually shared with the other members of the committee and eventually with the continental congress as a whole was not just something that had been written in the new style but it was radically modern. and there are different ways of thinking about that. now, we don't know, we're going to disagree, i suppose, about which actual man script finally made it to john dunlap's printing house. but the point to be made about the dunlap broadside is this. in addition to what we're
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looking at in terms of punctuation. this is ironically a document that is completely -- almost completely printed in the old style. even by american standards this is a very old-fashioned looking text in terms if capitalization. it could be someone such as john adams who tended to write in the old style was superattending. it may well be that did you know lapped decided to put it in this style because he did in fact publish in the old style in some cases but it's confusing. john adams wrote his thoughts on government not months earlier. there are three drafts written composed of the old style. and when john dunlap published it just a few months before he published the broadside of the declaration he put it entirely composed of the in the new style.
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and in fact, just one day later in benjamin town's publicication in the pennsylvania evening post we find it completely in the new style as well. completely or almost completely modernized. style. and in now, later in the same year, 1776 of course the delegates were working on what became the articles of confederation. dunlap was one of the two printers. what's interesting is that the draft of the articles was in the hand of john dickenson. and it was completely written in the old style. and in fact, when dunlap and comply pool printed off the first version of the articles to share with the delegates so that and they could look at it, that also was completely in the old style. but when a second draft was
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printed, it was completely changed to the new style. and the following year, 17 77, when it was officially published, we have a complete transformation. looking at and what you're is a document that is pretty much in the new style as well. and then the constitution in 1787. again, dunlap and clay pool are working as congress' printers. what we have in the first version that they printed off is a document and what you're seeing now -- you're not seeing it right here -- is a document that was completely printed once again in the old style. the second draft, which was printed just one month later
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reveals an entirely different presentation of the text in terms of these printing conventions. it was entirely in the new style and of course the document we're familiar with today was printed essentially in the new style as well. and that brings us to what we see on the website for the national archives. and what i would suggest given the kind of historicle work that i've been pursuing is that we not only look very carefully at that period and wonder whether it should in fact, for many reasons, be a comma but we also think about the style in which we want to disseminate this document to the largest possible audience. one of the arguments i make in the book that i'm writing is
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that when it comes to 18th century text including poems, for students in particular but certainly for a broader audience there's no reason not to modernize it, to put it in the new style. and i'm going to suggest that the archives think very strongly, at least on the website, of having an edition that is completely modernized and will be in a sense a little easier for a number of people to follow. thank you. [applause] >> what a fascinating way to start our day. we do have some time for questions. there are microphones on either side of the audience. if you have a question please approach the mike. and we can field your questions and respond. i don't have anything coming in from on line at the moment but we will keep an eye out on that
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conversation stream. in published in a youth companion article which is for children 1916, where he says
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that -- he and some others gathered several documents some known to be attributed, such as george washington's commission, and compared the handwriting. and this got published in youth companion and it's literally the only thing i've ever found in writing as a primary source for the attribution. so i was just wondering if anyone has any other thoughts. i should say we know that he worked as a clerk for charles thompson. so that's the other link that people make. i would love to hear more because even this question of commas hinges on this. >> i would like to know more about that also.
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i was not able to find anything that seemed to be a direct tie. it seemed to be circumstantial. the fact that he was working as a clerk. he did an awful lot as a secretary or clerk. a little while after he becomes the secretary of the pennsylvania assembly and one of those documents i showed you if you go and look like in the papers of continental congress or anything in those records you see his hand writing everywhere. all kinds of copies of documents as well as correspondents, some of which has his name on it. but i was frustrated by this also because as a historian i would like to be able to find something that directly shows.
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>> it sounds basically similar materials to you. i have to check my memory. my memory is 19034 there was a library of congress. it's purely circumstantial based on handwriting and so forth. >> i would add, though that the hand writing is a pretty good circumstance and that with the national archives and library of congress and other institutions putting a lot of new material on line, i think it would be just as well to find more documents and do the actual comparison than to try to figure out who thought of it first. i haven't personally done that comparison but i think it is probably proveable it is his hand writing. >> that is my sense, too. i looked like many man scripts.
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it look like a strong case. shows. >> this question might be a little off topic. i noticed both in jefferson's draft and did you know lop the word united, as in united states was all capitalized in the same size but when you get to the engrossed copy, united is in small. i wonder if you can comment on that. >> i really don't have an answer to that question. it's a good one. we'll have to think about it a little bit. it could reflect this reflect this atmosphere in which so many books were published and being written. it was very volatile at the time. but i don't know exactly why those would have had -- that
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word in particular would have been put in to lower case. i think it's a bit odd. >> i would add with regard to jefferson's rough draft in particular, that against the background of his radical modernism and his punctuation, that he is being emphatic about the word united as he is also when he writes men in all caps referring to slaves. that men, or the africans, is emphatic. i would think that the united is as well. >> good morning. absolutely great. this is a fascinating conversation. i wonder if any or all could comment on the fact that punks
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twugs, what punks wation mark whether a word is capitalized or not has any impact on the interpretation of a piece of sunk twation being a period or comma. what we know about his use of capitalization or not. i know there's various traditions. i wonder if you brought any analysis to that particular analysis of this. >> maybe -- does anybody else? >> i would just say there's a great deal of inconsistency during the period. commas, semi colons, and periods were interchangeable in a number of context. the only punctuation mark that i know that would be introduced into a sentence not to end it but to make a point was the scomplamation point because
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still rarely but still in the 1th century printers following their authors could put an exclamation point after a particular word. that did not mean that the sentence ended right there. it was i suppose in some ways equivalent to putting it in capitals or eye tallics a little earlier on. >> dashes, you could say something about critical marks. i think in this story that you've heard partly what you're hearing is a story about people trying to figure out how to help people think about what we're actually radical ideas and hard ideas. the movement from all men are created equal to the idea that governments are instituted to secure rights through that the
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people have the right to altar or abolish them. that is a meaty chunk of political philosophy there and a long sentence. so partly as a matter of breaking up a long period. sentence, making it easier for people. but actually, the other thing that people were doing was using dashes to help people through that. so he introduces a dash after pursuit of happiness. but the sentence carries on. and there's certainly an emphasis put on happiness. but then he says something that i think the genius to his qualities. he introduces a second dash after which which means you have a
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dash after the first premise and a dash after the second premise. that brings out the argumentative structure of the sentence in a way that goes beyond what the commas or semi-colons are doing. so that combination is what is connected to them flowing on with the capital that. think of it as bullet points. >> i was thinking to your first presentation where you show examples where it's interpreted as a comma and a dash and then a period and a dash. but then by the 1820's, perhaps the tradition had evolved to if there's a capital letter and there is, with the word that. by then the interpretation was it must be a period. that's kind of where i was going with my question, too. things were in flux maybe by 1820 that printer brought an interpretation which was more modern than was intended at the time. >> slightly more complicated. just because in that long sentence before we get the last clause that went over a form of government it's a comma. so he was capable of using the comma dash capital construction there. >> so he could go both ways. >> there are diea critical marks in jefferson's manu script. there are different ways of interpreting those marks that look a bit like floatation marks. in fact, he put some quoteation marks in a first trial of the first part and then discovered that something was amiss. we think today that everyson put them in to mark places
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where he would pause and therefore to accentuate certain parts of his argument. that may have been confusing to everyone at the time. >> it does sort of suggest there may have been after pursuit of happiness which turns into a dash and started to generate confusion around that part of the text. >> we have time for one last question. >> since he ended with this slide of the transcription as it appears, i was time for one last question. >> since he ended with this slide of the transcription as it appears, i was wondering if the speakers little more about this being part could talk a of the text tral tradition now. and where -- have a discussion about where you want to go next with the transcription. you made a couple of suggestions but this is a very static text and this might come up in the teaching session but how do we make it a dynamic text that celebrates the complexity of the tradition and
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gives people choices? not just a modernized version, not just a semi-diplomatic transcription but something that allows you to see the different anywhere else you would aufert the declaration of independence but here that poses a new capital. i think they really can put the transcript now with the image soss that people can see them
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also, it's not the manu script. the engrowsed copy that people would have seen in 1776 but it's one version or another of one of those printings. so that is a more auts tick way to feel what a real person back then who is reading this message for the first time and having their lives changed by it might have seen. >> i would support that in the sense that even since this discussion began about what's available, the notion of increasing access which is fundamental part archives mission is something that we're looking at rather deeply to that will broaden those access. we at the archives like to
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think that we provide an open and honest brokerage if you will for access to that information. and let others interpret what they see, because even today in our discussion is it a comma? is it a period? well, depends on the eye and the time. and even depends on the intent. i think brings us to an excellent stopping point for our break. thank you. a coup of house keeping moments. there i believe is still refreshments out in the lobby
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for you all. we will take a break and reconvene the second panel at 11:00. which will be technology fails me right at the time. the history significance of the text tral tradition. we will convene back again at 11:00. thank you, everyone. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
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