A Declaration Heard ‘Round the World!
The Declaration of Independence is America’s Birth Certificate.
After years of tyranny by Britain’s King George III, the colonies formed the first Continental Congress to send a list of complaints to King George III. The king ignored them. In June 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and decided it was time to create a document that declared America’s independence from Great Britain.
A committee of five was appointed to draw up a document. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston & Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson,
33 years old at the time, was tasked to write the document. From June 11th to June 28th, Jefferson worked on a rough draft which he presented to the Continental Congress on July 1st. From July 2nd to July 4th, the delegates edited Jefferson’s draft. On July 4th, they met in the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) in Philadelphia and approved the Declaration.
The title of this document was “A Declaration By The Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress Assembled July 4, 1776”. John Hancock and Charles Thompson signed it and it was sent to John Dunlap Print Shop a few blocks away.
Dunlap made 200 copies that came to be known as the “Dunlap Broadsides”- 20” x 16”; a good size that would enable the Declaration to be read aloud (just as Jefferson intended) to citizens as the courier made stops along the way.
Excitement, anticipation, urgency, fear – – fear? – yes – fear – filled the air as each courier was entrusted with his precious charge and sent along his way.
The Dunlap Broadsides were rushed to all 13 colonies. General Washington ordered that his personal copy of the “Dunlap Broadside”, sent to him by John Hancock on July 6th, be read to the Assembled American army at New York.
It was a rally cry to the men. They were so fired up they tore down a statue of King George III and 42,000 bullets were made from the molten lead retrieved from the fallen leader’s statue.
The Continental Congress ordered official or engrossed copies, on parchment paper to be signed by all the delegates. Fifty six delegates committed treason against Britain by committing such an act and pledged to each other and their new country “…our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor…” an act punishable by death – treason!
Of the 200 Dunlap Broadsides there are 25 known in existence today. In 1989 a flea market shopper, who had purchased a framed painting for $4 inspected a tear in the painting. We can only wonder if he had any idea what he had found when he discovered, inside the frame, folded twice a Dunlap Broadside in perfect condition. It was authenticated and sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1991 for $2.42 million.
Norma Lear and his wife bought it in 2000 for $8.13 million. Wanting to share the “People’s” document with all Americans on July 4, 2001 the Lears launched a 3 ½ year, no admission charge tour of 51 cities and towns across 31 states.
The road trip’s mission was to engage and energize all Americans, particularly young people, by bringing America’s birth certificate to them. I don’t know if the Lears have any future tours planned. More information can be found at: http://www.normanlear.com/citizenship_roadtrip.html. You will find wonderful videos also on this website.
Bill and I toured the exhibit in August 2003 when it made a short visit to Seattle. If you ever get the opportunity to make the tour, don’t miss it. With tears streaming down your cheeks, your love of country is still there. With all the tears we have shed over the ages, it still shines through, and the incapable leaders to whom we have recklessly entrusted these sacred principles have let us down but they haven’t destroyed us.
Pass on your pride to your children and grandchildren. Do you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence? I’ll bet you do – somewhere back in those books. Get it out every Independence Day and read it out loud just like the readers did in 1776 touring the colonies. Read it out loud to your children, to your neighbors, to the empty room. And thank God every day that you are an American. For no matter her faults, she is still the best country in the world.
If you don’t have a copy of the Declaration of Independence, please Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 360-871-2383.
This little bit of history is being sent to you as a token of our friendship and affection for you. We hope you enjoy it.
Happy Independence Day!
William and Vivian Henderson
July 4, 2013