A Brief History
"The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was 'to form a more perfect Union.' " Abraham Lincoln First Inaugural
By: Stanley Yavneh Klos
Neil Ronk, Senior Guide and Historian of the Christ Church Preservation Trust holds up John Dunlap's 1777 York-Town printing of the 1776 Journals of Congress flanked by NCHC Honors Students. The Journals have been opened to July 2nd 1776, marking the passage of the Resolution for Independency. - - For More information please visit NCHC Partners in the Park 2017
Thomas Jefferson's DOI Draft
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
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Delegates who voted against or abstained on July 2 and/or July 4, 1776*
George Read (DE) - voted against but signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2nd, 1776.
John Alsop (NY) - No authority to vote for independence was granted by New York hence abstained but resigned his seat in objection once NY approved Independence
George Clinton (NY) – No authority to vote for independence was granted by New York hence he abstained and left Congress on July 8, 1776 to serve in the Military
Robert R. Livingston (NY) - No authority to vote for independence was granted by New York hence he abstained despite serving on Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence
Henry Wisner (NY) - No authority to vote for independence was granted by New York but reportedly voted for the Declaration of Independence.
John Dickinson (PA) - abstained or absented himself feeling Independence was premature but remained in Congress drafting the Articles of Confederation.
Charles Humphreys (PA) - voted against independence and was replaced as a PA Delegate.
Thomas Willing (PA) - voted against Independence but would donate £5,000 to supply the revolutionary cause after the Declaration of Independence passed.Robert Morris (PA) - abstained or absented himself but signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776
*Eight men signed who weren't even elected to Congress until after July 4th, 1776 but signed the Declaration of Independence include: William Williams (CT), Charles Carroll of Carrollton (MD), Matthew Thornton (NH), Benjamin Rush (PA), George Clymer (PA), James Smith (PA), George Taylor (PA), George Ross (PA). Delegate Thornton received permission to sign the Declaration of Independence, even though he wasn't elected to the Continental Congress until September 1776.
Consequently, it was the date of July 2, 1776 that John Adams thought would be celebrated by future generations of Americans writing to his wife Abigail Adams a second letter on July 3, 1776:
But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.
The adoption of this resolution on the 2nd of July, 1776, was the termination of all lawful authority of the King over the thirteen United Colonies — made by this act of the Congress thirteen United States of America. The Americans now owed no more allegiance to England than they owed to Germany, or France, or Spain ; they were no longer rebels or insurgents ; they claimed their recognition as one among the family of nations of the earth, and they maintained and sustained the claim. It was in the end acknowledged by the King of England himself. After the 2nd of July, 1776, the English armies, with their Hessian allies, were the invaders of America, sent to reduce the independent States to unconditional submission to the Crown of England. And yet this day has no place in Lord Mahon's "history," the day on which was consummated the most important measure that had ever been debated in America..After the resolution was passed the Continental Congress turned to the debate over the language in the Committee of Five's formal Declaration of Independence. Time was short and Congress adjourned until Wednesday the 3rd. The debates of July 3rd and 4th altered the manuscript and with these changes the Declaration of Independence was considered by the committee of the whole. Thomas Jefferson was disappointed by the "depredations" made by Congress writing:
Despite these July 4th changes and previous committee edits Jefferson is rightfully considered the main author of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams in his autobiography recalls this of Jefferson’s pen:
Broadside Produced during the night of July 4, 1776,
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Dated Paris, December 1, 1776
May it please your Excellency.
In obedience to the Orders of the honourable Congress of the United States of North America I have the honor of presenting to your Excellency the inclosed Declaration of their independence.
This Declaration was dispatched to Me immediately after its being resolv’d on, but by accidents of War was intercepted, or it would have been much earlier presented. . . . during this accidental delay the United States have had a striking instance of the generous, tho just, & impartial principles by which his most Catholic Majesty is actuated, in the Treatment which their Gospels have met with in his Ports. This merits the most sincere and grateful acknowledgments of the United States, and as their agent I humbly wish the same may be express’d in the warmest Terms to his most Catholic Majesty and that he may be assured the United States will ever retain the most lively sense, of his impartial justice. I must excuse myself for addressing Your Excellency in English on Acct of my imperfect knowledge of other European Languages, and to assure you that I am with the most profound respect.
Your Excellency’s most Obed’t & very humble servt
Agent for the United States in North America.
November 28, 1776
May it please Your Excellency
We have the honor of inclosing the DECLARATION of the INDEPENDENCE of the UNITED STATES of NORTH AMERICA, with the ARTICLES of CONFEDERATION; which we desire you to take the earliest Opportunity, of laying before his Majesty, The King of Prussia; at the same time we wish he may be assured, of the earnest desire, of the United States, to obtain his Friendship; & by a free Commerce, to establish an intercourse between their distant Countries, which they are confident must be mutually beneficial. The state of the Commerce of the United States, and the advantages which must result to both Countries, from the Establishment of a Commercial intercourse; we shall if agreeable to his Majesty, lay before him. Meantime we take the Liberty of assuring your Excellency that the Reports of the advantages gained by his Brittanic Majesty’s Troops, over those of the United States are greatly exaggerated, and many of them without Foundation, especially those which assert that an accommodation is about to take place, there being no probability of such an Event, by the latest intelligence, we have received from America.
We have the honor to be with the most profound respect
Yours Excellency’s Most Obedient & Very Humble Servts
Commissioners Plenipotentiary For The United States Of North America
Minister Baron Von ScolendergThe Declaration, as affirmatively voted on July 4th, was not signed on that day by the attending delegates. The New York Delegates were required by their legislature to abstain from voting or signing any instrument of independence. John Hancock in an attempt to quickly gain the unanimous consent from all thirteen colonies sent a Dunlap broadside off to the NY Provincial Congress on Saturday July 6th.
Today only twenty-five of these Dunlap broadsides are known to exist. The original working copy(ies) of the Declaration of Independence that was signed by Hancock and Thomson on July 4, 1776 is/are lost. All we have left from the actual July 4th event are the drafts and printings of John Dunlap. One of these unsigned "Dunlap Broadsides", as it reported to have sold for $8.14 million in an August 2000 New York City Auction. [xv] This copy was discovered in 1989 by a man browsing in a flea market who purchased a painting for four dollars because he was interested in the frame. Concealed in the backing of the frame was an original Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence.
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Harvard University, Houghton Library - Massachusetts Historical Society - Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library - New York Historical Society - New York Public Library - American Philosophical Society - Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Independence National Historical Park - Maryland Historical Society - Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division - Library of Congress, Manuscript Division - National Archives and Records Service -Indiana University, Lilly Library -University of Virginia, Alderman Library - Public Record Office, London, England (Admiralty Records) - Public Record Office, London, England (Colonial Office 5) - Chicago Historical Society - Maine Historical Society - William H. Scheide, Scheide Library, Princeton, New Jersey - Ira G. Corn, Jr., and Joseph P. Driscoll, Dallas, Texas - Anonymous, New York, New York - Chew Family, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - John Gilliam Wood, Edenton, North Carolina - Anonymous, purchased at Sotheby's, December 1990 - Visual Equities, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia [xvi]
This is the Declaration of Independence. This is not Madonna's underwear or some kind of cockamamie thing - Klos/Kaller vs State of Maine
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Philadelphia: August-December 1776 Baltimore: December 1776-March 1777 Philadelphia: March-September 1777 Lancaster, PA: September 27, 1777 York, PA: September 30, 1777-June 1778; Philadelphia: July 1778-June 1783 Princeton, NJ: June-November 1783 Annapolis, MD: November 1783-October 1784 Trenton, NJ: November-December 1784 New York: 1785-1790 Philadelphia: 1790-1800 Washington, DC (three locations): 1800-1814 Leesburg, VA: August-September 1814Washington, DC (three locations): 1814-1841 Washington, DC (Patent Office Building): 1841-1876Philadelphia: May-November 1876 Washington, DC (State, War, and Navy Building): 1877-1921Washington, DC (Library of Congress): 1921-1941 Fort Knox*: 1941-1944Washington, DC (Library of Congress): 1944-1952Washington, DC (National Archives): 1952-present *Except that the document was displayed on April 13, 1943, at the dedication of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D. C. [xxii]
|Image of the Declaration of Independence as it currently exists at the US National Archives.|
Vellum Declaration Of Independence Engraver Mark left side: "Engraved by W. J. Stone, for Dept of State, by order of " - image courtesy of Historic.us
Vellum Declaration Of Independence W. J. Stone Engraver Mark Right Side: "J Q Adams Sect of State, July 4th, 1823" - image courtesy of Historic.us
Stan Klos with Dave Liniger, RE/MAX International's Chairman of the Board at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada opening his Rebels With A Vision Exhibit. In the background is William J. Stone's engraving of the Declaration of Independence.
American Archives: Fourth & fifth series : containing a documentary history of the United States of America from the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 to the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, September 3, 1783 by Peter Force and Published by M. St. Clair Clarke and Peter Force, Washington DC, 1848-1853 - image courtesy of Historic.us
Peter Force Declaration Of Independence American Archives printing W. J. Stone Mark - image courtesy of Historic.us
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Dr. Naomi and Stanley Yavneh Klos, Principals
Acknowledgments and Footnotes
The author is pictured here holding The Dunlap Declaration and Thomas Jefferson's Committee of Five Final Draft of the Declaration of Independence which are both housed at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.
We sincerely thank American Philosophical Society for allowing us to photograph and inspect the Original Draft and Broadside of the Declaration of Independence. Please be sure to visit the APS web site by Clicking Here.
[iii] Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Page 2
[v] Fitzpatrick, John C. The Spirit of the Revolution. Boston and New York: The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1924.
[vi] Journals of the Continental Congress, July 2, 1776
[vii] McKean, Thomas to Caesar A. Rodney, August 22, 1813, The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827
[viii] Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Sheets 40-41
[ix] Adams, John to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776, Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 4 May 16, 1776 - August 15, 1776, Library of Congress
[x] Adams, John. Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, "Had a Declaration..." . 3 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
[xi] Jefferson, Thomas Autobiography Draft dated January 6, 1821, The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress
[xii] Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, Original manuscript page 3
[xiii] Journals of the Continental Congress, Committee appointed to prepare the declaration, superintend and correct the press, July 4, 1776
[xiv] New York Provincial Congress, Resolution supporting the Declaration of Independence, July 9, 1776
[xv] Declaration of Independence Sotheby’s Sale, See: New York Times, For 1776 Copy of Declaration, A Record in an Online Auction, dated June 30, 2000
[xvi] The DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, A Multitude of Amendments, Alterations and Additions, Appendix A - Extant copies of the 4 & 5 July 1776 Dunlap Broadside
[xvii] Declaration of Independence, German Printing, Pennsylvanisher Staatsbote, Henrich Millers: Philadelphia; July 9, 1776
[xviii] Journals of the Continental Congress, Official Copies of the Declaration of Independence, January 18, 1777.
[xix] Walsh, Michael J., "Contemporary Broadside Editions of the Declaration of Independence." Harvard Library Bulletin 3 (1949): 41.
[xx] Opt Cit, Engrossing The Unanimous Declaration Of The Thirteen United States of America, July 19, 1776
[xxi] Declaration of Independence, The Charters of Freedom, A New World is At Hand, The National Archives of the United States, 2005-2008, http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html
[xxiii] Frederick W. True’s Semi-centennial history of the National Academy of Sciences, A History of the First Half-Century of the National Academy of Sciences 1863-1913, pp. 279-284.
[xxiv] The Daily National Intelligencer and Washington Advertiser, June 4, 1823
[xxv] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1823-1824 dated Wednesday, May 26, 1824.
[xxvi] William R. Coleman, "Counting the Stones: A Census of the Stone Facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence," Manuscripts 43 (Spring 1991): 103
[xxvii] Force, Peter; AMERICAN ARCHIVES: Containing A Documentary History Of The United States Of America Series 4, Six Volumes and Series 5,
[xxviii] Hancock, John to George Washington concerning the reading of the Declaration of Independence to the Revolutionary army, 4 July 1776, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.
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