The Declaration of independence is quite a powerful and historical document from the American Revolution. We often hear that there were several copies, and I wondered how the really big, famous one with the John Hancock signature came to be. After some looking, I came across a site that sells historic
documents, and one caught my eye, a broadside of the Declaration of independence: www.sethkaller.com/item/1098-A-Rare-July…dependence-Broadside
This got me curious as to how many printings there were of the original version and when they were made. I learned that:
1. There was an initial draft made by Jefferson (included hand edits by Ben Franklin) – this copy still exists
2. There was a copy that was presented at the Continental Congress, and included their edits – this copy has not been found
3. Congress then had John Dunlap, a local Philadelphia printer, print several hundred copies, known as broadsides, that were distributed throughout the colonies – around 25 are known to have survived
4. Once the colonies had the John Dunlap broadsides, locally printed broadsides were made (of which the originally referenced one is this post is, likely printed in New Hampshire or Massachusetts)
5. Around July 19th, 1776, Congress had a larger, “embossed” version made, which was to be signed by the Continental Congressmen, and is the big version with John Hancock’s large signature we typically think about when we think of the Declaration of Independence. Aha, so this is it!
This website has an incredible description of the different versions: thejeffersonians.com/History%20of%20Decl…%20Independence.html and more historical facts about them.
It is facinating to see that so many versions of the famous Declaration of Independence exists, and each type served a particular purpose in helping to spread the message of colonial sentiment at the time.