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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Illuminated Declaration of Independence

The Illuminated Declaration of Independence - Thomas Jefferson

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

 

Thus begins arguably one of the greatest documents in history.  I had to memorise the beginning of the Declaration of Independence in high school, but being an adolescent, it was just a series of words to be remembered; nothing of any real impact.  Now that I've grown older and hopefully wiser, I appreciate what that document truly represents so eloquently. 

 

I found this copy in my mom's FOTL bookshop.  It's binding is a little bit sad, but the illuminated plates are beautiful.  Penned in 1905 by Sherman Ellsworth Notestine - an amateur penmen who created these plates in his spare time while working full-time as an accountant with the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The plates weren't designed for readability, but the detail and colour are both stunning; the result of 10 years of solid work and self-education.  Luckily, the creators of this book put a transcription of each plate on the facing page, and I took my time the other day to read each transcription and savour each plate.  [As an aside, boy did Jefferson have a go at King George III or what?]

 

A very readable introduction by Henry Steele Commager briefly outlines the history behind the Declaration's inception and talks briefly, but interestingly, about the inspirations from all corners Jefferson pulled from when penning our historic break-up letter.  The ideas, the concepts, the philosophy - none of it was new, but never before had anyone said "right, we're actually going to put our money (lives, in this case) where our mouths are and do this".  Only Jefferson said it SO much better.

 

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.