Is there a Typo in the Declaration of Independence?

Abroadside for the Declaration of Independence.
Abroadside for the Declaration of Independence. –CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD.

OK, nobody panic, but there may be a typo in the Declaration of Independence. Researcher Danielle Allen believes a mark, long believed to be a period, is not a period at all. And the difference changes one of the most important lines of the document, according to The New York Times.

From the Times:

The period creates the impression that the list of self-evident truths ends with the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’’ she says. But as intended by Thomas Jefferson, she argues, what comes next is just as important: the essential role of governments — “instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed’’ — in securing those rights.

“The logic of the sentence moves from the value of individual rights to the importance of government as a tool for protecting those rights,’’ Ms. Allen said. “You lose that connection when the period gets added.’’

The National Archives and Records Administration is investigating the claim, checking other copies of the declaration from 1776 and consulting with other experts, according to the Times.

If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, you’re probably a fan of “The West Wing.’’ In the show’s seventh season, character Toby Ziegler thinks he’s found an “inconsistent comma’’ in the takings clause of the constitution.


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