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Americans Confused By Declaration of Independence Tweets

Declaration of Independence painting by John Trumbull in the United States Capitol
Declaration of Independence painting by John Trumbull in the United States Capitol
Americans Confused By Declaration of Independence Tweets
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This is What’s Trending Today.

Every July 4th, Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The document expressed the desire of the American colonies to separate from Great Britain.

It contains about 1,300 words.

Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

On the July 4th holiday, the American media organization National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasts a reading of the Declaration of Independence over the air.

This year, NPR decided to extend that tradition to Twitter. It posted the entire Declaration, line-by-line, in a series of tweets.

The first tweet on Tuesday read: “In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…”

A few minutes later, NPR tweeted: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

That is perhaps the most famous line in the document.

The Declaration of Independence presents a number of reasons why the American colonies wanted to break off from England. For example, it says those running the government should be there only because the people “consented.”

It says if the government becomes “destructive,” it is the “Right of the people to alter or abolish it.”

And it mentions that any changes to long-established ideas should be made for a good reason.

The Declaration also writes that the British king, King George III, has a “tyranny” over the states. One line of the document says, “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a freer people.”

Many social media users became confused by NPR’s Independence Day Twitter messages, however. They did not recognize the lines of the historical document, and probably had not seen NPR’s earlier tweets. Some mistook the Declaration’s words about King George III for negative opinions about the presidency of Donald Trump.

Twitter users began accusing NPR of trying to get people to fight against Trump.

One Twitter user believed that NPR must have been “hacked,” because the tweets did not make sense to her.

Another accused NPR of encouraging violence “while trying to sound patriotic.”

The NPR Twitter confusion soon became a trending topic.

The confused Twitter users soon realized their mistake. Many of them deleted their original tweets. Some even deleted their entire Twitter accounts.

Writer Parker Molloy noticed the negative tweets before they were deleted, however. And he posted a number of screen shots of the messages to Twitter.

NPR has been broadcasting its reading of the Declaration of Independence for 29 years now. This was its first year to post the entire document on Twitter.

NPR spokeswoman Allyssa Pollard said the tweets were shared by thousands of people and created a “lively conversation.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for VOA Learning English, with some reporting from the Associated Press. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Would you have recognized the Declaration of Independence tweets? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

unanimous – adj. agreed to by everyone

confuse – v. to make (someone) uncertain or unable to understand something

consent – v. to agree to do or allow something : to give permission for something to happen or be done

alter – v. to change something

abolish – v. to officially end or stop (something, such as a law) : to completely do away with (something)

tyranny – n. cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others

delete – v. to remove (something, such as words, pictures, or computer files) from a document, recording, computer, etc.

hack – v. to secretly get access to the files on a computer or network in order to get information, cause damage, etc.

encourage – v. to tell or advise (someone) to do something

lively – adj. very active and energetic