Readings: Fourth of July Edition

Today is Independence Day in America, so here are some interesting reads related to the Fourth of July holiday in America:

1) “Star-Spangled Skepticism” [New York Times] – a wonderful photo essay in the New York Times Lens blog on Misha Erwitt’s fascination with the American flag:

The collection, “Stars and Stripes,” is a meditation on Americans and their unusually intimate relationship with their flag, an intimacy that struck him even as a boy, standing with his hand over his heart as he recited the Pledge of Allegiance at school. In the years since, Mr. Erwitt’s fascination has grown, establishing itself as an exploration of the fanfare that shadows the flag.

2) “Jefferson Changed ‘Subjects’ to ‘Citizens’ in Declaration of Independence” [The Washington Post] – a very interesting article about a certain “smear” found on The Declaration of Independence:

Scholars of the revolution have long speculated about the “citizens” smear — wondering whether the erased word was “patriots” or “residents” — but now the Library of Congress has determined that the change was far more dramatic.

Using a modified version of the kind of spectral imaging technology developed for the military and for monitoring agriculture, research scientists teased apart the mystery and reconstructed the word that Jefferson banished in 1776.

Fascinating how The Library of Congress made this discovery:

The library deciphered the hidden “subjects” several months ago, the first major finding attributed to its new high-tech instruments. By studying the document at different wavelengths of light, including infrared and ultraviolet, researchers detected slightly different chemical signatures in the remnant ink of the erased word than in “citizens.” Those differences allowed the team to bring the erased word back to life.

But the task was made more difficult by the way Jefferson sought to match the lines and curves of the underlying smudged letters with the new letters he wrote on top of them. It took research scientist Fenella France weeks to pull out each letter until the full word became apparent.

3) “The Mystery of the Declaration of Independence” [Art Lebedev blog] – this fascinating article is featured in a blog, but it was too good to pass up after I chanced upon it today researching about the Declaration of Independence for my photoblog entry. The central premise is why the document of such importance was titled as so:

United States of "Жmerinca"

Granted, the document was found in Kiev, but how did this error happen? The story revolves around Timothy Matlack, born as Tomislav Matlakowski:

In all likelihood, the nostalgic Matlakowski wrote the title in mixed alphabets, while Congress members didn’t notice anything wrong on the day when the Declaration was signed. But it was apparently discovered the next day by Charles Thomson, the discovery leading him to order immediately that the original be hidden from the public eye, and Matlack be demoted from the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Congress Delegate from the same state.

To fill in the gaps, you should read the entire fascinating story. Do you believe it?

One thought on “Readings: Fourth of July Edition

  1. i’ve never paid attention to the Dec. of Ind., and now i’m looking at it in new light… hm, is it really true??

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