Oops! We Left Out 2 Words In The Declaration Of Independence

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In the broadcast reading of the Declaration of Independence we inadvertently dropped two words: establish commerce. We muse about what would be different if those words had not been in the document.


And we extend apologies to Thomas Jefferson, the 13 original colonies and the rest of the United States of America.


Because on July 4, MORNING EDITION delivered our annual presentation of the Declaration of Independence. It was read by visitors to Washington, D.C., and a phrase was wrong. Just listen to this passage.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, construct alliance...

MONTAGNE: That's all correct, but we left off two words.

INSKEEP: The free and independent states also claim the power to establish commerce. We now correct the record.

MONTAGNE: The most impressive part of the episode is that sharp-eared listeners caught this omission fairly deep in our founding document. If we'd said, when in the course of events, many people would've caught it.

INSKEEP: We've been thinking of other famous documents that would of been different if you had lost a word. We the people in order to form a union.

MONTAGNE: Roughly fourscore years ago.

INSKEEP: And let's not even get started with modern speeches, such as, ask not what your country can do, or Mr. Gorbachev tear this wall.

MONTAGNE: That, many people would catch, but catching the missing commerce clause of the Declaration, that's true patriotism.


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