A Brief History of the Printing of the Declaration of Independence
Monday, July 8, 2019
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
Growing up, I believed the Declaration of Independence to be a singular, definitive document, created and signed on July 4, 1776, which was destined to go down as one of the most important pieces of history known to mankind. I couldn't have been more wrong. Although there is a version of the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776, with copies printed and distributed, there is a much more complicated history.
On the night of July 4, 1776, it was reported that a member of the Committee of Five arrived at John Dunlap's Philadelphia-based print shop and asked him to print an estimated 200 copies of the first broadside - now referred to as the Dunlap Broadside - of the Declaration of Independence, according to Harvard University's Declaration Resources Project. The Dunlap Broadside was to be distributed to the 13 colonies to inform them of "the sea change in their political affairs," according to the New York Public Library.
Now, 243 years later, there are only 25 known copies left — including one "proof" copy. Copies are held at locations across the country, including at Yale University, the New York Public Library and Independence National Historical Park, as well as a few copies in London.
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