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Give us your declaration

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 1, 2001

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. . . .

* * *

Thus, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia 225 years ago this week, began the explanation of why "in the Course of human Events" the "united colonies" were declaring their independence from the British crown.

Though Thomas Jefferson drafted the original statement, history notes that his congressional colleagues made 86 changes to his text. Still, the vast majority of what schoolchildren are encouraged to memorize is the work of Jefferson.

The language is inspirational, even if some of it is so stilted as to be unclear to modern readers. For instance, what exactly did Jefferson and his colleagues mean by "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"?

During this anniversary week of the adoption of the Declaration, the Times invites readers to ponder what locations in the United States best satisfy their understanding of that momentous phrase. Write to us, relating your chosen spot and your reasoning in a few paragraphs (about the length of this story). We will publish some of your selections and comments this summer. We also may use them to send travel editor Robert N. Jenkins in search of the intangibles symbolizing that historic phrase.

Send your ideas by July 16 to "Declaration," Travel section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731; or e-mail Please put "Declaration" in the subject line.

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