Now, I admit, I have been very fond of jokes and hoaxes, and have perpetrated a few fine ones in my day, but this accusation deeply perturbs me. If there is one thing that I do take very seriously, it is the matter of government. I am very much offended by the suggestion that my draft of the Declaration would contain humorous or satirical items (for which I am famous).
Yes, I did write newspaper columns under the pseudonym of "Silence Dogood," holding up the local government in Boston to public ridicule. Yes, as a joke I reported in my own newspaper that a rival publisher had died... and I kept up the ruse for some time until he actually did pass away (not owing to my joke, mind you). Yes, I wrote a very clever story that satirized a mean-spirited politician who railed against freeing the slaves (in my version I turned the tables and set the tale in an Islamic country, where the people were supposedly concerned about freeing their white slaves).
And yes, I even wrote a counterfeit chapter of the Bible, "a parable against persecution," which I memorized and then teased clergy with by pretending to read it from an actual Bible, asking them afterwards to name the chapter and verse I'd quoted from. (Of course, they were unable to do so.)
But I would never, ever toy with a serious matter such as the Declaration of Independence.
My jests would be reserved for afterwards, when adjourning to a local publick house in Philadelphia with my fellow patriots and meeting over a few tankards of ale. It was only then, in privacy, that you might hear my wicked impression of King George.
Your humble servant (seriously),