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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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2115. DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Opposition to.—[continued].
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2115. DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Opposition to.—[continued].

When the Declaration
of Independence was under the consideration of
Congress, there were two or three unlucky expressions
in it which gave offence to some members.
The words “Scotch and other foreign
auxiliaries.” excited the ire of a gentleman or
two of that country. Severe strictures on the
conduct of the British King, in negativing our
repeated repeals of the law which permitted the
importation of slaves, were disapproved by some
Southern gentlemen whose reflections were not
yet matured to the full abhorrence of that traffic.
Although the offensive expressions were immediately
yielded, these gentlemen continued their
depredations on other parts of the instrument.
I was sitting by Dr. Franklin who perceived
that I was not insensible to these mutilations.
“I have made it a rule,” said he, “whenever
in my power, to avoid becoming the draftsman
of papers to be reviewed by a public body. I
took my lesson from an incident which I will
relate to you. When I was a journeyman
printer, one of my companions, an apprentice
hatter, having served out his time, was about to
open shop for himself. His first concern was
to have a handsome signboard, with a proper inscription.
He composed it in these words:
John Thompson, Hatter, makes and sells hats
for ready money,” with a figure of a hat subjoined.
But he thought he would submit to
his friends for their amendments. The first
he showed it to thought the word “hatter”
tautologous, because followed by the words,
“makes hats,” which show he was a hatter. It
was struck out. The next observed that the
word “makes” might as well be omitted, because
his customers would not care who made
the hats. If good and to their mind, they would
buy by whomsoever made. He struck it out.
A third said he thought the words “for ready
money,” were useless as it was not the custom
of the place to sell on credit. Everyone who
purchased expected to pay. They were parted
with, and the inscription now stood, “John
Thompson sells hats.” “Sells hats,” says his
next friend? Why nobody will expect you to
give them away. What, then, is the use of
that word? It was stricken out, and “hats”
followed it,—the rather as there was one painted
on the board. So his inscription was reduced
ultimately to “John Thompson” with the figure
of a hat subjoined—
Anecdotes of Dr. Franklin. Washington ed. viii, 500. Ford ed., x, 119.
(M. 1818)