Punctuation changes meaning of Declaration of Independence

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PRINCETON, NJ – The punctuating period may be infringing on our rights!

Scholar Danielle Allen says a punctuation error in the middle of the Declaration of Independence changes its meaning. At the end of one of the most famous quotes no less, there is a period and Allen says it shouldn`t exist.

It occurs after this sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Right there at the end of “happiness” is that period.

Allen says you can clearly see the dot in the copy, but it`s probably not in the original document.

Here`s the next bit after the period: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Allen claims the logic of the sentence moves from the value of individual rights to the importance of government as a tool for protecting those rights. She says you lose the connection and importance of the government`s role in protecting your rights when the period separates the two thoughts.

The wayward period apparently does not exist on other copies, including Thomas Jefferson`s rough draft and with that, she says, Americans have a ‘routine but serious misunderstanding’ of the document.





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