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Thomas Jefferson & the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson substituted 'pursuit of happiness' for the word 'property' in the Declaration of Independence, because he and others needed to get the southern states to vote affirmatively on the adoption of the new government as set forth in the Constitution. Assume for a moment that you are Jefferson, would you have done the same? Or would you have risked the vote down of the constitution? Defend your choice.

Solution Preview

There is an important error that has been made in the question. It is true that the phrase "pursuit of happiness" does appear in the Unanimous Declaration of Independence for the Thirteen united States of America. However, it does not appear in the Constitution for the united States of America. In fact, the Congress that created the current constitution wasn't held until 1789, thirteen years after the signatories signed the Declaration of Independence.

Therefore, the assumption that he substituted "pursuit of happiness" for "property" in order to get the southern states to vote affirmatively to adopt the new government as set forth in the Constitution is not accurate. There was no Constitution at that time when the signatories signed the Declaration of Independence, and there was no government set forth in said document. The issue did not involve a risked vote down of the constitution.

Regardless, what was the relevance of the changed phrase? We all know that Jefferson relied heavily ...

Solution Summary

The solution helps the student in tackling the original problem (see problem) regarding the substitution & choices of certain phrases by Thomas Jefferson for inclusion in the declaration of Indepence. It provides a historical and critical analysis of the reasons behind Jefferson's actions and what it implies.

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