In May 1776, Thomas Jefferson rented
a room above Benjamin Graff, Jr.’s store, at Seventh and Market, in
Philadelphia. Fliegelman, Declaring Independence, Jefferson, Natural Language
and the Culture of Performance, (Stanford University Press 1993) 196. There he
sat alone in a Windsor chair; resting on his knees was a portable writing box
he designed. David McCullough, John Adams (Simon and Schuster, 2001) 120;
Bedini & Silvio, Declaration of Independence Desk (Smithsonian Institution
Press, 1981) 6-7. This would be his run at history, his attempt to say
everything and “place before mankind the common sense of the subject.” Letter
of Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825, Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson
Memorial Association, 1903, Lipscomb, ed.VII), 407.
The first two paragraphs of the
Declaration of Independence have been described as “electrifying,” Paul
Johnson, A History of the American People, (Harper Collins, 1988), 135.
When in the course of human event
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