This Year’s Twist on Fourth of July Tradition

4 07 2009

Because Favorite Daughter is landing in London this weekend — where I suppose America’s Fourth of July is viewed a bit differently? — and in any case she isn’t here to do our usual singing along with the “1776” musical theatre dvd, and also because the dad of the family is under the weather, Young Son and I find ourselves “doing history” here together.

While we’ve been watching the History Channel’s American Revolution programs all afternoon (treason is a slippery thing, for shame, Benedict Arnold!) I checked my email and discovered the Teaching Company is having a one-day sale with some tempting history titles.

Young Son chose three history courses and then we saw an intriguing connection of math to history and philosophy.

Thus I learned my new thing appropriate for the day — check this out from the course description:

“We hold these truths to be self evident …”
So wrote Thomas Jefferson in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence. He had originally started, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable … ”

The change to “self-evident” was probably made at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, a great scientist as well as a statesman, who saw the power of appealing to scientific thinking. A Euclidean proof begins with axioms (self-evident truths) and then Read the rest of this entry »