NARA to Display 1823 Copy of Declaration of Independence
Press Release · Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Press Release
July 1, 2009

National Archives to Display 1823 Copy of Declaration of Independence

Rare document on loan to the National Archives from David M. Rubenstein

Washington, DC…The National Archives will exhibit temporarily a rare 1823 copy of the Declaration of Independence as part of its July 4th festivities. On loan to the National Archives from David M. Rubenstein, this document will join the original Declaration which is on permanent display in the Rotunda of the National Archives. The National Archives Building is located on Constitution Ave. between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, and is fully accessible.

Offering visitors an unprecedented opportunity to see four rare versions of the Declaration, and for the first time in its 75-year history, the National Archives will be displaying at the same time four versions of the Declaration of Independence:

  • The original, signed Declaration of Independence, engrossed (handwritten) on parchment and signed by 56 delegates to the Continental Congress beginning August 2, 1776. It is permanently displayed, sealed in the most scientifically advance housing that preservation technology can provide, in the National Archives Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

  • The Dunlap Broadside, the first printed copy of the Declaration, made on the night of July 4th by John Dunlap the official printer to Congress, displayed in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building. On the morning of July 5, copies were dispatched by members of Congress to various assemblies, conventions, and committees of safety as well as to the commanders of Continental troops. Also on July 5, a copy of the printed version of the approved Declaration was inserted into the "rough journal" of the Continental Congress for July 4. This rarely displayed print is featured in “BIG!”, an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of the National Archives that runs through January 3, 2010.

  • The original copper plate created by Mr. William J. Stone in 1823 to make facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence, on display at the entrance to the “Public Vaults” exhibition. Mr. Stone was commissioned by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1820 to make a facsimile of the entire Declaration, signatures as well as text. By June 5, 1823, almost exactly 47 years after Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration, it was reported "that Mr. William J. Stone, after a labor of three years, completed a facsimile of the original of the Declaration of Independence, now in the archives of the government; that it is executed with the greatest exactness and fidelity; and that the Department of State has become the purchaser of the plate."

A first printing on parchment of the Declaration of Independence struck from the copper engraving plate by William J. Stone in 1823, on display in the entrance to the “Public Vaults” exhibition near the original copper plate from July 1 through September 17. This rare version of the Declaration is on loan from Mr. Rubenstein. 200 parchment copies were struck from the plate and distributed to the three surviving signers, (Jefferson, Adams, and Carroll), former President James Madison, President Monroe, the Marquis de Lafayette, the Congress, the Supreme Court, each state and territorial governor and legislatures, and unspecified colleges and universities.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.


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