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American Mind

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Declaration Of Independence No Longer Expresses ‘The American Mind’

For most Americans, Independence Day means firecrackers and cookouts. The Declaration of Independence—whose proclamation, on July 4, 1776, we celebrate—doesn’t feature. Contemporary Americans are less likely to read it now that it is easily available on the Internet, than when it relied on horseback riders for its distribution. It is fair to say that the Declaration of Independence has been mocked out of meaning. Back in 1776, gallopers carried the Declaration through the country. Printer John Dunlap had worked “through the night” to set the full text on “a handsome folio sheet,” recounts historian David Hackett Fischer in Liberty And Freedom. The president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, urged that the “people be universally informed.” (They were!) Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, called it “an expression of the American Mind.” An examination of Jefferson’s constitutional thought makes plain that he would no longer consider the collective mentality of contemporary Americans and their leaders (former Rep. Ron Paul as the lone exception) “American” in any meaningful way.… Keep Reading

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