Today, thanks to Robert Sullivan, I got to hear the Declaration of Independence read aloud at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in Manhattan by some reenactors in period garb. It’s the kind of thing I would usually miss, but Bob (Rats, The Thoreau You Don’t Know, The Meadowlands, etc.) is enthusiastic about things like this at the moment (and generally more enthusiastic than I am about anything, ever), so I went.
And along with being predictably bizarre — passersby completely ignoring the unignorable, giggling tourists getting photographed with reenactors, a guy asking me “Is this a protest? or a reenactment?” etc. — it was great, because two of the readers really shouted out the list of grievances, and they hit hard. I actually got goosebumps.
Jefferson and the Congress wrote the document so it would read well both silently and to crowds. But I’d never heard the list yelled so angrily. If you want to get the full, passionate effect of the high-Whig vocabulary of English rights, it might be something to try at home.