Congress Shall Make No Law...
October
1
5:10 PM
We are citizens, not subjects

Tom Bowden of Voices for Reason notes a fascinating discovery about the Declaration of Independence. Early in the original draft, Thomas Jefferson changed a word to “citizens.” But because he scribbled out the original word, no one could tell what he had written until recently. Using new technology, however, scholars have identified the word: “subjects.” As Tom says, “on the brink of revolution, here was Jefferson, eradicating an important vestige of the idea that government is the master and individuals are the loyal servants.”

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It seems entirely fitting to note this discovery as we kick off Citizen Speech Month. Citizens are equal before the law—equal to each other, and, importantly, to their governing officials. Subjects ask permission to speak. Citizens do not.

 

One of my favorite lines from the Declaration of Independence is in the bill of particulars lodged against King George: “He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.” I can’t think of a better description for all the campaign finance bureaucrats and the morass of red tape they impose on citizens who wish to speak out about their elected officials.

 

Enjoy the next month leading up to the election as a citizen, not a subject. Speak early, and speak often.