When in the Course of human events….
It must have been decreed somewhere, by someone, that if you are writing your manifesto, you must purple up your prose. Self-consciousness infects the pen, and the desire to inveigh into and against the sweep of history blots heavily on the page.
We hold these truths to be self-evident…
Thomas Jefferson, commissioned by Congress to write a new nation’s founding document, must have felt no small measure of that prosaic imperative. Yet when his quill met the parchment his words didn’t lumber, they soared.
These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.
Sometimes the right wordsmith is in the right place at the right time. Tom Jefferson was many things: a patriot, a slave-holder, a country gentleman, a political operator, a genius. He served his nascent nation in a succession of roles: congressman, diplomat, cabinet secretary, vice president, and finally president. In each he’d log his due course of triumphs and shortcomings. His earliest contribution, though, might just have been his best: With the most inspired prose imaginable, he wrote America into existence.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.