The winners of Slate's contest to rewrite the Declaration of Independence in a single tweet.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
July 2 2010 5:16 PM

Life, Liberty, and 140 Characters

The winners of Slate's contest to rewrite the Declaration of Independence in a single tweet.

Illustration by Rob Donnelly. Click image to expand.

According to our arithmetic, it would have taken three-and-a-half tweets a day to rewrite the Declaration of Independence if we wanted to finish it in the same 17 days that Thomas Jefferson took to write it. Fortunately, there were hundreds of entries for our #TinyDeclaration contest during its three-day duration. We could have rewritten history many times over.

We asked Slatereaders to condense the 1,300-word Declaration of Independence into a single tweet that they thought captured its essence. And with the mandatory #TinyDeclaration hashtag for all entries, you had a precious 124 characters to tell King George to bugger off.

Speaking of whom, we owe an apology to @KingGeorge3, an actual Twitter user and the subject of many of our readers' Tiny Declarations. Fortunately, he doesn't seem like an avid Twitter user (his last post was on Jan. 23). But if you're wondering why so many people are tweeting mad at you over their lack of liberty, KingGeorge3, look no further.


As for our readers, you quickly placed yourselves into two camps: the literalists and the humorists. Our literalists took their assignment very seriously, condensing American democratic theory into a tweet with surprising elegance. Honorable mentions go out to @MagnusUnda ("English oppression must cease, make haste our national emancipation. Replace your taxation with our liberty. Utopia awaits!") and to Slate commenter Karen Sullivan ("We protested taxation without representation; we have been patient; we appealed for justice; now we declare ourselves free.") They show that the King's English remains intact, even if his empire doesn't.

Then there were a whole slew of you who reminded us that Americans are known for our brash and ballsy mannerisms—and for our superior pop culture. @grammarninja, you made us chuckle with, "@KingGeorge If you liked it then you shouldn'ta put a tax on it." Slatecommenter DeAnna Burghart would have rankled the royals with, "@KG: Last straw, GTFO. You deserve to know why, so here: tyranny sux. Sod off, we'll take it from here. @GB: sry. Friends?" And @RennaW, we're glad you let your nerd flag fly to produce, "PEOPLE=FREE, IF(PEOPLE=CONSENT),GOVERNMENT=TRUE,ELSE(FALSE). LIST:(COMPLAINTS)." Next time we want to start a revolution, we'll type that into our computer.

But as is fitting for America, we had to pick winners and losers. And without further ado, here were our favorites:

The third runner-up, for straddling the delicate balance between the literal and humorous: @Boston1775: "We seek independence based on noble and universal ideas combined with petty and one-sided grievances."

The second runner-up, for his direct and confrontational tweet, goes to @TJMonticello: "All peeps are equal. Sick and tired of your tyrannical BS. Seeking independence. Your permission requested, not required."

The first runner-up, for both historical accuracy and a Twitter-worthy modernization of communication, goes to @badanes: "Our Rights from Creator (h/t @JLocke). Life, Liberty, PoH FTW! Your transgressions = FAIL. GTFO, @GeorgeIII. -HANCOCK et al."

And finally, our winner—according to his Twitter bio, a former writer for Conan O'Brien and The Daily Show—is @ApocalypseHow, for reminding us that brevity is the soul of wit: "Bye George, we've got it."

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