America's Founding Documents

The Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence states the principles on which our government, and our identity as Americans, are based. Unlike the other founding documents, the Declaration of Independence is not legally binding, but it is powerful. Abraham Lincoln called it “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.” It continues to inspire citizens around the world to fight for freedom and equality.

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The Declaration of Independence (front)

Years of public display have faded and worn this treasured document. Today it is maintained under the most exacting archival conditions possible.

View in National Archives Catalog
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The Declaration of Independence (back)

There's no treasure map on the back of the Declaration, but there is a line of text along the bottom edge. It reads, "The Original Declaration of Independence July 4th 1776," This docket (identifying label) was visible when the document was rolled up for storage.

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Stone Engraving of the Declaration of Independence

The most frequently reproduced version of the Declaration is from a print made from a copperplate engraving. William J. Stone made the engraving in 1820 because the parchment Declaration was already fading.

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