Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Fact-checking claims about the Declaration of Independence

A 2011 editorial cartoon by Chip Bok.
A 2011 editorial cartoon by Chip Bok.

We’ll acknowledge, truths aren’t always self-evident.

That’s why we’re here!

For Independence Day, we’ve rounded up our fact-checks of claims about the Declaration of Independence.

In the words of our founders: let facts be submitted to a candid world.

Thomas Jefferson called regulations an 'endemic weakness’?: Florida Gov. Rick Scott invoked the Declaration of Independence as he froze new state regulations in 2010. But professors found his interpretation had its own weaknesses. We rated it  Half True.

Happiness 'at the time of our founders' was 'doing what you ought to do’? Rick Santorum, in his 2012 presidential primary run, said our nation’s founders defined happiness as doing your duty. But those rebels — who defied a king — weren’t much for "ought." We found his claim Mostly False.

President Obama leaves 'Creator' out of Declaration? A political action committee claimed in 2012 that President Barack Obama was the "only president in history who has deliberately removed the words ‘endowed by their Creator" from his references to the Declaration of Independence. He has sometimes omitted the phrase, but so have at least three other presidents – including Ronald Reagan. We rated the claim False.

‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ are in the Constitution? Presidential primary candidate Herman Cain in 2011 exhorted Americans to read the Constitution. "There’s a little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he said. That would be, uh, the Declaration of Independence. One expert suggested that perhaps Cain himself had some reading to do. We rated his comment False.

Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen? Our nation’s founders also made an appearance in the 2008 campaign, when Republican primary candidate Mike Huckabee said most of the signers of the Declaration of independence were clergymen. Of the 56, we found one — and rated Huckabee’s claim  Pants on Fire.