The Declaration of Independence is a peculiar thing. It’s a literary masterpiece that was written jointly by a committee of fifty people. It’s short and punchy—just 1310 words long—but still somehow daunting and difficult to get to grips with (there’s a reason most of us have never read it in full and can only quote the first third of its second sentence).
And what is it exactly? Is it a birth certificate announcing happy news, or a petition for divorce full of grievance and score-settling, or something else? Is it aimed at the American people, or King George, or someone else? Was it the first ever declaration of independence, or a cheap imitation of a genre already well established? What did people at the time make of it? What did it change? Why does it matter?
In this public lecture, Richard Bell, a professor of history at the University of Maryland will tackle the fascinating origins, misunderstood purpose, and extraordinary global legacy of the Declaration of Independence.
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