All Men Are Tweeted Equal
A Slate Twitter contest: Reduce the Declaration of Independence to a single tweet.
It took Thomas Jefferson only 17 days to write the Declaration of Independence. Pretty impressive work for what one historian famously described as "American Scripture" and what the National Archives calls"the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty." Then again, it's only 1,300 words or so, approximately 8,000 characters. In other words, three-and-a-half tweets a day.
Which got us to thinking: If Jefferson were writing the Declaration of Independence today, he'd probably tweet it @kinggeorge3. He was also only 33 years old when he wrote it, about the age of the average Twitter user, and there is evidence he liked cool gadgets with which to express himself. And as he once said, "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." (Still 57 characters left, Mr. President!)
So here is our challenge to Slatereaders: Condense the Declaration of Independence to one tweet. For example: "All men should be equal, happy and free. Suck it, King George. We quit. Love, the U.S. of A." Or maybe: "All men are free. Also: No more quartering of troops." Reduce the document to what you see as its essence. The most recent tweets, and the most popular, will be collected below. After three days, we'll collect the best and publish them the weekend of July 4.
As usual with this Internet stuff, there are some crucial details. The most important is that each tweet contain the hashtag #TinyDeclaration. That will allow us to collect all the entries, but it also means that you really have only 124 characters left to summarize Mr. Jefferson. (Sorry.) Feel free to tweet as often as you like—there's no limit on the number of times you can enter—but remember that we won't count any tweets made after Wednesday at midnight. If you like a tweet, retweet it—that will help us see which ones are most popular. (Don't worry if you have to shorten it when you retweet. So long as the first few words are intact, we'll find it.) And if you don't have a Twitter account but want to play, feel free to leave a 124-character message in comments below.
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.