Two hundred and thirty-five years ago, Thomas Jefferson awaited the vote for independence with trepidation -- not because he did not think the measure would pass -- but because he knew that with the vote would come another round of changes to the "original Rough draught" of his document declaring independence from England. Like any writer, Jefferson loathed editorial criticism, so the thirty-nine revisions requested by Congress on July 2, 1776, were not easy to swallow.
Jefferson had been appointed, along with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingstone to the committee tasked with writing the document, and then promptly designated by the others as the worker bee. Writing in secret in Philadelphia, he labored in private for days creating a "composition draft." He then made a "fair" copy of the declaration and presented it to the others. Revised first by Adams, then by Franklin, and then by the full committee, forty-seven alterations (including the insertion of three additional paragraphs) were made to the document before the rest of Congress even saw the thing.
We who toil with the craft of writing know how hard it is to accept changes to our carefully crafted words. I think back to a professor in college who took me to task saying I had to learn "the fine art of paragraphing." At the time I was annoyed, but oddly enough her advice comes back to me, and I sense she had a point. Hopefully Jefferson, toiling away in that sweltering city, believed that at least some of his colleagues' changes improved his "draught."
What editorial comments have been hard for you to swallow? Did you declare them insignificant, or insightful?
Happy Independence Day to all.