The Declaration of Independence: The Evolution of the Text

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Library of Congress, 1999 - History - 102 pages
For more than 50 years, Jefferson scholar Julian P. Boyd's study of the evolution of the text of the Declaration of Independence, which the Library of Congress undertook while the nation was in the throes of World War II, has remained the preeminent textual presentation of the most fundamental document of the United States. First published in 1943 and out of print for over 40 years, this new edition once again presents photographic prints of all known drafts in one large-format book. It now adds the fragment of a rough draft Boyd found in 1947. In an introductory essay, Gerard W. Gawalt relates the story behind the fragment's discovery, and why it sheds new light on the writing of the Declaration.

A moving wartime foreword by Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress in 1939 - 44, and Boyd's expert insights into Jefferson's writing and editing process, set the stage for the superlative color reproductions. Readers can examine documents, such as the Virginia Declaration of Rights, that Jefferson drew upon in preparing the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, the documents show that writing the Declaration was not an easy individual undertaking, but rather that its composition involved diligent, determined cooperation by many in the midst of wartime chaos.

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About the author (1999)

JULIAN P. BOYD (1903 - 1980) was editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. GERARD W. GAWALT is a Library of Congress manuscript historian and specialist on Jefferson and early American history.

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