What Jefferson was thinking

Analysis reveals a last-minute revision to the Declaration of Independence

10:37am, July 3, 2010

Smudge analysis shows how Jefferson changed his mind.

Spectral analysis of an uncharacteristic ink smudge on an early draft of the Declaration of Independence uncovered a little of the rebel spirit in Thomas Jefferson, the colonist and future president who wrote the document.

About 80 years ago, some archivist sandwiched the pages of Jefferson’s draft between sheets of plastic. When the document was taken out of its permanent display case for a brief analysis last year, Library of Congress research scientist Fenella France noticed an uncharacteristic smudge.

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