The Self-Evident Truth Series by Michael Clay Thompson is an extraordinarily useful series that overlaps the disciplines of Language Arts, Social Studies, and History, as well as Gifted programs. The books are also a fascinating “read” in themselves. These books not only provide important insights into American history and culture, but they also show students the pay off for the intensive study of language: how grammar is truly a “magic lens” into thought; how word choice can be a matter of meter; and how authors use vocabulary and other poetic devices to establish meaning and impact.
Jefferson’s Truths continues Thompson’s study of the language used in important statements of equality in American history. The Declaration of Independence is a revolutionary document. Its function was to announce to the world that the war in progress in North America was revolutionary in aim. During the centuries that followed, it has proven to be a statement that the world has tried to live up to.
In this volume Thompson shows just how revolutionary the concepts of the Declaration were. He relates them to the ideas of the Enlightenment and then focuses on the language and grammar that Jefferson used to announce that revolution. He contrasts the extraordinary dignified tone of the Declaration with other more inflammatory language used in the revolutionary war and he shows precisely how Jefferson used grammar and vocabulary to achieve the ends he sought.
On July 4, 1776, King George III wrote in his diary “Nothing of importance happened today.” He was wrong about that, but it was not simply by chance that he was wrong about it. A great deal of thought and effort went into making him wrong. Thompson shows the brilliance of Jefferson's execution of writing the Declaration of Independence.