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Referring to this: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

What exactly is the "Object" that is referred to here? What exactly is the "Object" that is being pursued?

  • Maybe it's an archaic word for objective. – Barmar Jul 2 '14 at 21:31
  • An alternative word, I would suggest, might have been end. – WS2 Jul 2 '14 at 21:38
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Object in this context means goal or purpose. Nowadays we would use the word objective, but object may be used by itself when followed by the preposition of, as in:

The institute was opened with the object of promoting scientific study.

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The Object in reference here is specified a few lines further into the declaration:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. (emphasis mine)

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

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  • That document could use some proofreading. :) The reference of the term should be given before the use, not after. And in the sentence the OP quoted, a comma is needed after Object. – Barmar Jul 2 '14 at 21:48
  • Assuming that the rules of style and grammar, especially those for very formal documents, were the same 240 or so years ago as they are now. – Matt Gutting Jul 2 '14 at 21:59
  • There are other commas in the sentence that suggest that they were used similarly. However, from numerous examples it seems like the rules were followed haphazardly. – Barmar Jul 2 '14 at 22:05
  • Yes, @Barmar, the document could use some proofreading--notoriously, for instance, the prefix "self-" is redundant with "evident"--but on the principle of ethics before aesthetics, I vote for getting rid of the slur against "merciless Indian Savages" as the first edit. – Brian Donovan Jul 2 '14 at 22:14
  • Now I'm tempted to search the Internet to see if anyone has done a rewrite of the DofI or the Preamble to the Constitution. – Barmar Jul 2 '14 at 22:16

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