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

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.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

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.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Salute.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.