|Print of the Declaration of Independence made in 1976 for the nation's 200th anniversary|
This print suggests what the original parchment looked like when it was presented to Congress for the delegates to sign on August 2, 1776.
John Hancock, the President of Congress, was the first to sign; his signature is larger than any other on the page and directly centered below the text. The signatures of the other delegates are arranged from right to left, according to the geographic locations of their states, beginning with New Hampshire, the northernmost, on the right, and ending with Georgia, the southernmost, on the left. Eventually, fifty-six delegates signed, although not all of them were present on August 2; some who were present for the vote on July 4 never signed.
The original, signed Declaration shows signs of fading, handling, and aging. As a symbol of the Revolution’s highest ideals, it has been lovingly handled and proudly displayed over many years. Its present condition is evidence, not of indifference or neglect—but of extreme devotion. To preserve it for future generations, today it is on display, sealed in the most scientifically advanced housing that preservation technology can provide.
National Archives, Unaccessioned Record