The Jeffersonians   

The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people ... Th. Jefferson

The History of the Declaration of Independence

NATIONAL HYMN: George W. Warren composed the hymn tune NATIONAL HYMN specifically for the lyrics of "God of Our Fathers" for it to be used in the centennial celebration of the adoption of the United States Constitution. It has always begun with the trumpet fanfare, which sets the martial tone. Enjoy it while you read.



It was in August of 1775, a proclamation so declared that the colonists, still being the King’s subjects were engaged in an open and affirmed rebellion.  Parliament in 1775 passed the American Prohibitory Act, making all American vessels and their cargo forfeit to the Kind. The colonists watching the events coming from England became convinced the King treated the colonies a separate entity from its mother land. Each colony slowing began to cut their ties to England through the Continental Congress, whereby in March of 1776 they passed the Privateering Resolution, allowing colonists “to fit out armed vessels to cruise on the enemies of these United Colonies”.  The colonists open their ports to foreign trade and commerce with other nations, severing ties of the Navigation Act, on May the 10th, 1776, the Resolution for the Formation of Local Governments was passed.  The colonists were on their way to independence.

The colonists were slowly being convinced independence be the rightful conclusion. Thomas Paine wrote and had published in January of 1776, Common Sense and sold thousands of copies. By May of 1776, there were at least eight colonies supporting the idea of declaring independence. The Virginia Convention on May 15th of 1776 passed a resolution so stating “the delegates appointed to represent this colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent states.” Richard Lee on June 7th , 1776 presented his resolution, there were some colonies that supported resolving their differences with England postponing a vote on Lee’s resolution. On June 11th it was considered in the Continental Congress, a vote of seven to five, New York abstained; postponed the vote as congress was recessing. Since it they assumed the resolution would pass, a committee of five being then appointed to draft a statement, declaring independence.

The Committee of Five, consisted of John Adams of Massachusetts, Robert Livingston of New York,  Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. In Jefferson’s words from his writings in 1823, Jefferson wrote, "unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections. . . I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress."  John Adams was later asked why he did not write the document and what why he told Jefferson to author it; his answer: "Reason first, you are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can." Jefferson on June 11th 1776 set out to write the declaration.

Jefferson sat in his room at the room house where he lived, the weather was hot; his lap desk set in front of him, with no books or writings before him, only his knowledge retained through his extensive readings he set his pen to paper. According to records, Jefferson formed on draught which he presented to Adams and Franklin for review, changes were made upon the document and he then rewrote it with changes which was then presented to the Continental Congress on July 1st, 1776. It was at this time Congress met again after a three-week recess, Lee’s resolution was passed, 12 to 1, New York not voting; Congress then immediately began its discussion of the declaration.  Jefferson’s document was submitted with the changes made by Adam’s and Franklin, the Congress then made additions and deletions; upon the morning of July 4th , 1776 the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted, whereas the church bells rang out signifying the adoption. From what we can surmise through writings and documents existing, Jefferson wrote upon the his copy, with alterations by Adams and Franklin in Jefferson’s hand, bracketed phrases are those deleted by Congress, this was labeled ‘Rough Draft’ by Jefferson, such remained in Jefferson’s papers till his death. Sometime before it was adopted, Jefferson set a copy of the declaration without Congress’ changes to Richard Henry Lee and George Wythe, these copies exist in archival libraries at the American Philosophical Society and in the Emmet Collection of the New York Public Library, another copy resides in the Washburn Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, being sent to either John Page or Edmund Pendleton by Jefferson. In 1783 Jefferson sent to Madison a copy made from his notes of the debates in Congress, Jefferson kept a draft of the Madison copy in his papers, John Adams made a copy of the draft before submitting to Congress, surviving today in the Massachusetts Historical Society.

 Discover more on the rough draft

The final draft taken to John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer, also being the official printer for the Continental Congress, it is perhaps what many believe was the ‘fair copy’ of the rough draft but it is not proven what copy was given to Dunlap, it is known the rough draft with Adams and Franklin changes did survive; however the draft with changes made by Congress did not.  The Dunlap copies delivered to Congress, then dispatched to assemblies, conventions, committees and Commanders, Congress keeping one for their journal approving it of July 4th.  No one knows for sure just how many John Dunlap printed however over time only 26 known copies have surfaced, these are known as the ‘Dunlap Broadside’. Each ends with, ‘signed by the Order and Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President. Attest Charles Thomson Secretary’ and measures 14 inches by 18 inches on what they call, chain laid paper of Dutch origin,  imported probably from England. ‘They are not signed by other members of congress, there is said one broadside was actually signed in pen by John Hancock and Charles Thomson, yet this has not survived or ever been found.  Broadsides were a method of the time to spread word or news of an important event all people need know, such Broadsides drawn up and printed then dispatched for public viewing in colonies; therefore, the Dunlap Broadside was the reasonable, common method of dispatching the news of the Declaration of Independence.

New York, on July 9th 1776 approved the Congressional action, all 13 colonies now unanimously signified approval.  Congress ordered out an engrossed copy on July 19th. It was to have the title, ‘The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America. ‘  Once finished, the engrossed copy, be signed by all members of the Continental Congress. The engrossing process is one of preparing an official document in large, clear pen, to which Timothy Matlack was most likely the engrosser of our Declaration of Independence. It is known, Matlack worked with Charles Thomson, secretary to the Congress; and had, in fact, written George Washington’s commission to the Continental Army, no doubt it was he that then penned the declaration. The engrossed copy was 24 ½ by 29 ¾ inches on parchment.

On August 2nd 1776, the Declaration of Independence, having been engrossed, was set out to be signed. John Hancock being the President of the Congress, was first to sign the document, followed by to the right of Hancock’s bold signature at the center, the signatures were so arranged by each colony the signers resided, northern colonies first to the southern colonies last. Not all signers signed on August 2nd, Elbridge Gerry, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean, Oliver Wolcott and Matthew Thornton, the latter was unable to sign with his fellow New Hampshire delegates. According to the July 19th order by Congress, instructing the engrossed copy, ‘be signed by every member of Congress’, not all did sign it. John Dickinson insisted reconciliation was still a viable solution and Robert Livingston thought the declaration was being too hasty, he was also on the committee of five to draft the declaration.

After the signing, the document was filed with Thomson, the secretary for the Congress, on December 12th 1776, threatened by the British, Congress moved to Baltimore, MD and reconvened 8 days later. The Declaration rolled, moved with them by wagon with other important and necessary articles.  While in Baltimore, on January 18, 1777, Congress, confident of the successes at Trenton and Princeton, ordered a second official printing of the declaration. The first printing, the Dunlap Broadside, had only John Hancock and Charles Thomson names, mostly due to secrecy and security for the delegates that did sign it; the second printing was to have all signatures affixed. This copy is known as the Katherine Goddard from Baltimore, caused 13 copies printed;   the copy was done in Caslon font, on cotton-rag paper, laid out in two columns, measuring 16 by 21 inches.  It stayed there until March of 1777 when it was returned to Philadelphia.  On September 27th the declaration moved again to Lancaster, PA, for one day, then moved to the courthouse at York, PA from September 30th to June of 1778. From there it moved and stayed at Philadelphia from July of 1778 to June of 1783, whereupon in 1783 it moved to Princeton, NJ from that June to November. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the declaration moved again to Annapolis, MD, staying there until October of 1784. It moved to Trenton, again, for the months of November and December of 1784 where it moved to New York in 1785 where Congress convened, being then stored at the New York City Hall and did so remain until 1790.

During its course of stay at New York, secretary to the Congress, Charles Thomson retired and surrendered his duties and the declaration to Roger Alden, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In September 1789, the name of the department was changes to Department of State. Thomas Jefferson being appointed the first Secretary of the State, returned home from France to assume this duty, the duties of the Secretary of State included the custody of the Declaration.

In July of 1790, Congress provided a new permanent capital of the new nation be built, the chosen location was along the Potomac River, now Washington D.C; meanwhile Congress moved to Philadelphia, whereas, the declaration returned also, being then housed in several locations within Philadelphia.

When in 1800, by direction of John Adams, then President, the Declaration moved from Philadelphia to the newly built federal capital, along with other government records of the time. The Declaration then went on its longest trip upon water, leaving Philadelphia down the Delaware River into the Bay, to the Atlantic Ocean, reaching the Chesapeake Bay and up the Potomac River to Washington. The Declaration was housed in the building used for the Treasury Department; it stayed there for about 2 months then moved to one building of seven along Pennsylvania Avenue, until moved to Seventeenth Street at the War Office Building.

In August of 1814, being at war with England [War of 1812], seeing a British fleet in the Bay, then Secretary of State, James Monroe, observed the imminent threat to the capital city; and in doing so, directed clerk, Stephen Pleasonton, causing linen purchased be made into bags whereas all precious records including the Declaration, then put upon carts, be then taken up the Potomac River and to an empty gristmill owned by Edgar Patterson. Farmers, giving up their wagons for the use of moving the precious documents to Leesburg, VA. While on August 24, as the British attacked Washington, the Declaration and other documents were traveling to Leesburg. The Declaration remained save in a private home, where it stayed for weeks or until British troops left the area. In September of 1814, the Declaration returned. It was moved only twice, once for its trip back to Philadelphia for the centennial celebration and during World War II when it was housed at Fort Knox for security, now in Washington at the National Archives in Washington DC.

The Declaration of Independence many times had copies made; some commissioned, others were not.  Many done by express permission of the government or commissioned by the government directly, are found, sold or retained in collections of archival libraries of universities, museums, historical societies or the government. The original is the original, there is one engrossed Declaration of independence, other copies done by permission or commission were limited in the numbers, they are considered original copies.  These copies are known as the Dunlap Broadside [1776], the Katherine Goddard {1777], the Binns Copy [1819],the Tyler Copy [1819],the Eleazer Hunington copy [1820], the Stone copy [1823],  the Peter Force copy [1833 procured, inserted in 1848],the Anastatic Fac-Simile copy (John Jay Smith) [1845], the London Peter Force copy [1855], the Ohman lithograph copy [1942, 1955], and the Ira Corn copy [ 1974]. There may be other copies, some with value, as original newspaper printings of original time, have surfaced and other important printings. The copies listed are among the most sought after and the most rare, all having small numbers in existence.

Please note, we will not herein reference the value of rare, copies, although rare original copies of the Declaration of Independence are important, it is the words within the document need receive our highest attention and reverence.

The History of the Original copies for the Declaration of Independence:


 dunlap original

Original Dunlap Broadside


Emerging in the late afternoon of July 4th, 1776, after twelve of the thirteen colonies having reached an agreement declaring the colonies a free and independent nation [New York held out], and being ordered by John Hancock, President of the Congress to be authenticated and printed, the draft of the Declaration made its way to John Dunlap, official printer for the Congress.

Hancock’s order: “That the declaration be authenticated and printed That the committee appointed to prepare the declaration superintend and correct the press. That the copies of the declaration be sent to the several assemblies, conventions and committees, or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of the con­tinental troops, and that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army.”

Dunlap is thought to have printed about 200 copies, being distributed to members of Congress, throughout the colonies, and to England. George Washington upon receiving his read it to the troops, boosting the morale of the army.  John Hancock and Charles Thomson signed two copies being sent to England, Hancock signed his name in bold pen for the King but as far as we know or is noted in history, the Kind never received that copy and no one knows what happened to them, no signed copy of the Broadside has surfaced.

The Dunlap Broadside varies slightly in size averaging 15 by 19 inches, printed on Dutch chain laid paper, probably imported from England.  Some of the copies in existence vary in paper and size, some have been found to contain errors yet others do not, causing one to surmise, as the printing began, someone noticed the error, corrected the letters, and continued, those printed after have a space where the lettering was adjusted.  Dunlap was ordered that the copies be made in haste, it is no wonder as they worked through the night, errors were made, corrected and what paper of that size being readily available, used. 

Only 26 known Dunlap Broadsides exist today, perhaps there are others, tucked away somewhere but until they are found; only 26 known to exist.  They are in public and private collections.


New Hampshire copy

New Hampshire broadside

The New Hampshire broadside, contains no printer name or place, it is most likely printed after the arrival of the Dunlap Broadside to New Hampshire around July 12 or closely thereafter, in Exeter by Robert Luist Fowle. The copy as seen was that of Charles Toppan, a noted antiquarian, the first in producing Jefferson's manuscripts of the Declaration of Independence, his family inherited it.  This particular photo was the sale of such copy by Seth Kaller auction house of historical documents and transcripts.


Massachusetts copy

Massachusetts copy

This a broadside of the Declaration of Independence, like most colonies, the Dunlap Broadside caused others to be printed locally for distribution to the public whereas citizens could view it.  Most colonies copies were printed near or about July and August of 1776. There is usually found, print at the bottom indicating where it was printed, who ordered it to be printed, and the name of the printer.  They were printed on paper.



Goddard Copy

Goddard Copy

Approximately 16" x 21". The first printing to list the names of the signees and the first printed in two columns. Marked at bottom "Baltimore, in Maryland : Printed by Mary Katharine Goddard."It was printed in Caslon font, on cotton-rag paper. Ordered by the Congress as an official copy for the record. Postmaster/Printer Goddard set the type from the original engrossed version and mailed one to each state so people would know the signers. Until this time the signers, for security reasons were unknown, the fear of the British discovering who signed it could have put any of them in danger. With successes of the battles of Trenton and Princeton Congress ordered the printing by Goddard in order to reveal the signers, it is the only Broadside copy ever officially produced containing all signers names. There is one name absent from the print, that being, Thomas McKean, who signed the engrossed copy too late for inclusion. Nine known copies to exist.



Tyler Copy

Tyler copy


Washington, 1818. Engraved by Peter Maverick. 31 x 27 inches. The title and text are in various ornamental scripts; the signatures are in facsimile. Produced on paper, a less amount on vellum and only about four known printed on linen or silk.

Until 1818 Americans never saw the writing of the Declaration, only being seen in print on Broadsides or Newspapers. Two rival printers, John Binns and Benjamin Own Tyler desired to be the first in publishing such a copy. Binns begain in June of 1816 taking subscriptions for his print of the Declaration which was to be surrounded by portraits and seals but he failed to produce the finished work until 1819. Meantime, Tyler, making full advantage of Binns publicity, set out creating a copy himself, unornamented, in April 1818; complete with facsimile signatures and dedicated to Jefferson. He asked permission to dedicate the engraving to him, Jefferson replied to him: ‘for the few of us remaining can vouch, I am sure, on behalf of those who have gone before us, that notwithstanding the lowering aspect of the day, no hand trembled on affixing its signature to that paper.’

Tyler sent Jefferson a copy on parchment and visited at Monticello around May of 1818, he spent the day teaching penmanship to Jefferson’s family. Jefferson’s prints of the Declaration of Independence being dispersed among his family after his death, have not survived.



Woodruff copy

Wm Woodruff Copy

William Woodruff’s engraved copy of the Declaration of Independence appeared just before the Binns copy.  While Binns had Hancock’s image, Woodruff used John Adams, the signatures rather than facsimiles are calligraphic, and said to be near exact as the originals.

The engraving was printed several times, the first being in 1819, and the last being about 1840. The printings were not all done by the same printer, therefore when finding a Woodruff engraving there may be several markings on the lower edge depicting the printer’s name and one such printing had Woodruff’s signature; the different publishers: ‘published by Phelps & Ensign 7 ½ Bowery, N.Y.’ , Philad. Published Feb 20, 1819 By William Woodruff’ Some have ‘Wm Woodruff’ signature lower right and bottom center Published 1819.

The Woodruff copy is 22 by 25 respectfully; the seals of the 13 colonies and images of the first 3 Presidents around the text.


Binns copy

Binns Copy


To compete with Tyler, Binns opted for a more ornamental and artistic production, putting in state seals of the original colonies forming an oval with portraits of Hancock, Washington and Jefferson at the top. He took great care using the best likenesses available to him. He could not however gain a copyright until 1818 causing a delay in delivering this print, as he had begun taking subscriptions for it in 1816. Compared with Tyler’s Binns’ document was expensive, he charged ten for the plain, and if colored, thirteen.  His signatures did not compare to Tyler’s, his being so good they were often mistaken for genuine signatures of the signers; Binns’ could never be mistaken. John Quincy Adams attested the signatures to be exact imitations and the whole copy said to be a correct copy. Binns used five artists to complete his work, the eagle at the top painted from live and dedicated to the people of the United States. He listed his credits as: “Originally designed by John Binns, ornamental part drawn by Geo. Bridport, arms of the United States and the Thirteen States drawn from official documents by Thomas Sully, Portrait of Gen’l Washington painted in 1795 by Stuart, Portraits of Thomas Jefferson in 1816 by Otis, Portrait of John Hancock painted in 1765 by Copley, Ornamental part, arms of the United States and the Thirteen States engreaved by Geo. Murry, the writing designed and engraved by C.H. Parker, Portraits engraved by J.B. Longacre, Printed by James Porter.”

The Binns print measures 24 by 35.5 inches. Binns had hoped to sell 200 copies of his print to the government but was disappointed in 1820 by then Secretary of state John Quincy Adams's commission of an exact facsimile of the original by William J. Stone. When completed in 1823 Stone's print was considered the "official" copy for government use.


Huntington copy

Eleazer Huntington copy

Eleazer Huntington’s copy is believed to be printed in Hartford, Connecticut at or near 1820 to 1824. The print measures 21.5 by 25 inches, imitating Tyler’s print but in a smaller size. The design while mimicking Tyler’s design, Huntington lacks some of the details but remains an excellent engraving.

Huntington copies were often hung in schoolhouses therefore originally hung on wooden rods, when such copies are found today flaws are often seen considering where they had been hung and the exposure to harm was high. When found, they can be quite valuable.


Stone copy

William Stone Copy

William Stone was commissioned in 1820 to make the first full-scale exact replica of the Declaration of Independence. After three years producing the copper plate, in 1823 Congress ordered 200 copies printed on vellum and distributed to the three surviving signers, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Charles Carroll, also to President Monroe and Lafayette.  The copy measures: 33 ¾  x 27 ¼ inches .

The Declaration of Independence in 1820 was then housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC, it was already deteriorated, this would provide an exact copy on a copper plate. Many debate if Stone’s process called the ‘wet’ process caused further damage to the document; however recent discoveries show it was not Stone’s process but another copying process later done.  Of the 200 copies made only about 40 are known to exist, of those 21 are in public collections, while the others in private collections. There were subsequent facsimiles done from the copper plate however the ways to distinguish the first printing with subsequent printing is Stone’s original imprint on the top left reading: ‘Engraved by W.J.STONE for the Dept. of State by order,’ and continuing at top right: ‘J.Q Adams, Sec of State July 4, 1823.’ After this first edition the engraving at the top was removed, replaced with a shorter imprint at the bottom left reading: ‘W.J.STONE SC WASHn,’ this shorter imprint is seen on subsequent plates and prints. The Stone copy illustrated is a later copy with the shorter imprint.


morrison copy

Morrison copy

This Broadside copy was printed by C. A. Elliott, Philadelphia, PA, published by Thomas Morrison of Philadelphia in 1832 [copyright: Dec. 8th 1832]. It is very ornate with a central medallion bust of George Washington with spread winged eagles to either side, printed text of the Declaration of Independence with printed signatures of the signer. Also you find 27 states with populations and principal towns hand colored in red , green and yellow. The document is 27 by 20 inches. A wonderful artful broadside.


Phelps copy

Phelps copy

The Humphrey Phelps copy is of a broadside style, much like the Binns copy, published in 1845. It gives tribute to Washington and LaFayette at the lower corners, often you will find this copy colored. It was published in New York.


PETER FORCE COPYPeter Force copy

Peter Force copy

On July 21st, 1833, the original  engraver, William Stone, invoiced Peter Force for 4,000 copies of the Declaration of Independence, Force must have assumed he would sell at least 2,500 copies of his American Archives, 1500 being  commissioned by John Quincy Adams. Peter Force was a noted archivist and historian compiling the American Archives, originally planned as a series of more than twenty volumes, with the most important original materials from American history, from the 17th and 18th centuries. The project was abruptly cancelled by Secretary of State William Marcy, leaving Force in debt; ultimately causing him to sell his massive collection to the Library of Congress for $100,000, to replace books lost in a fire at the Library of Congress.

The American Archives were not printed until 1848 some 15 years after Force procured the copies from Stone.  After mounting expenses and increasing delays in producing Series IV, by 1843, when Force was re-authorized by Congress, he had by then scaled back his subscription plan to only 500 copies.

The Force printing,  the second edition of Stone’s facsimile, remains one of the best representations of the Declaration of Independence, his imprints that never were folded for inclusion in books were never protected and  are very rare, the folded copies are the mostly likely found today. All though are rare to find, and no one knows exactly how many Force copies ultimately circulated. The copies are of the Stone measures: 33 3/4 x 27 1/4 inches.

In addition to his work on the Archives, Force made some other contributions to American history. He was the first scholar to discover that the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of 1775 was not what it purported to be. Then he published The Declaration of Independence, or Notes on Lord Mahon's History of the American Declaration of Independence (London, 1855 ). Occasionally, too, he printed a paper on a subject not directly related to his field: in 1852, Grinnell Land: Remarks on the English Maps of Arctic Discoveries, in 1850 and 1851; and in 1856, a "Record of Auroral Phenomena observed in the Higher Northern Latitudes" (Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. VIII). These minor works perhaps are of interest merely to the antiquarian, but the American Archives are still indispensable to every student of the American Revolution.



Anastatic copy

Anastatic Fac-Simile copy

Lingenfelter, discoverer of the Anastatic copy says,’The Anastatic Declaration is a facsimile from a plate produced by a chemical transfer process that nearly destroyed the original engrossed Declaration.’ This copy is not just a facsimile but its significance is by the fact this anastatic process itself was the one of the major causes for the original engrossed Declaration’s current condition.

The discovery that this early American attempt at imaging using a process developed in Europe and brought to this country by John Jay Smith as a commercial venture is an exciting development in the history of the Declaration of Independence. Proof of the use of the Declaration of Independence as an original used for the anastatic process is offered by Edward Law, as he has discovered a reference in the December 9, 1846 Alexander’s Pictorial Messenger

announcing the availability of anastatic copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Non Importation Act of 1765 from the Anastatic printing office on Chestnut Street.

The absence of a printer’s name on the Anastatic Declaration suggests that someone directly connected to the patent agent produced it.  An October 27, 1846 report on a Franklin Institute Exhibition in The North American names John Jay Smith’s son, Lloyd P. Smith as the printer of the Anastatic Declaration. There is a copy at the American Philosophical Society and another in the collection of Independence National Historical Park,” said Law.  He believes that the absence of a printer’s name on the Anastatic Declaration suggests that Smith, the patent agent, produced it.

“Smith thought the Declaration would bring the anastatic process to the attention of the public, it would brand his product. It was neither commissioned nor endorsed by the Government, it was a business endeavor and has a place in printing history,” said Chief Curator Karie Deithorn in Philadelphia. “He looked on it as a perfect advertisement, a marketing tool for his business venture, at a time when the Declaration was not revered as a holy relic as it is today.” Deithhorn also alerted Lingenfelter that she had in her files a newspaper clipping from the July 7, 1846 (Philadelphia) Public Ledger reporting a visit by Generals Houston and Rusk, then U.S. Senators, to the Independence Hall. They noticed an “anastatic copy of the Declaration” in the room with the Liberty Bell and called it “a perfect facsimile of the original and an exceedingly appropriate ornament.”

Lingenfelter explains: “Until I showed the curators at Independence National Historical Park my copy and told them what I had learned about anastatic printing, they assumed the copy in their collection was merely a Centennial souvenir from 1876.” The park put that copy through a conservation process in the 1980’s and it has remained in archival storage since that time.

It is difficult to believe that Smith produced only two Anastatic Declarations, but the Independence National Historic Park and Lingenfelter documents are the only two known  copies.

Until now, scholars were unaware of anastatic printing and its relation to the condition of the original engrossed Declaration.  Previously, the damage to the document was thought to be only due to constant exposure of the document to sunlight when it was on display in a government office building. Some attempts have been made to cast blame upon William Stone, intimating that certain damage may have occurred during his time with the document.

The fact that the original would have been exposed to the harsh chemicals involved in the anastatic process would be considered blasphemy if suggested today, but in 1846 there was not the respect for the original document we hold today. That the original document was exposed to such a new and potentially risky process – and the ultimate results – may explain why those who had access to the document made no mention of their attempts.

Edward Law’s great interest in the propagation of the anastatic process led him to become one of the world’s experts in its processes and usage in that age. Law points to an 1891 auction catalog for “Revolutionary Documents, letters and relics of George Washington and Scarce American Maps and other rarities,” cataloged and conducted by Stan V. Henkels, for Thos Birch’s Sons auctioneers, 1110 Chestnut Street.

It describes as lot 709 The Declaration of Independence, an Anastatic Copy on parchment from the original, as to make this they allowed the original document to be placed under a certain process, which enabled the projectors of the scheme to take a…facsimile…from the original. That this outrage was perpetrated the original Declaration too clearly shows as it is so faded as to be hardly discernable to the naked eye…and from which they were enabled to take a few impressions…this, therefore, really portrays more truthfully what the document was than the original itself.” Lingenfelter believes this may be the very copy in his possession, although his is on paper not parchment. Lingenfelter explains that auctioneers often confused paper and parchment, and that printers did not use real parchment in the 19th century.


Force london copyPeter Force london copy

Peter Force for Lord Mahon's Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence printed by Peter Force for the inclusion in his Lord Mahon’s Notes on the Declaration of Independence, in London 1855. It measures 15 ¾ by 17 ¾ respectfully.  The copy folded for inclusion in the book, and this print is rare, perhaps being that not many survived across the sea in Britain.  How many came to America, is not known, nor do we know how many actually were printed or distributed.  Due to its smaller size, this print may readily not be recognized.


Buttre copy

The Buttre copy

This copy is produced in the broadside manner,  in 1856, of approximately 16 by 20 inches, hand colored and marked ‘border drawn by W. Momburger – Lettering by C Craske – Engraved & Published by JC Buttre, 48 Franklin St. N.Y.’, with a copyright date below the 1856 mark. It was printed on hard card stock.


centennial copy McBride

McBride copy

The centennial copy, ornately bordered with the bald eagle and American flags, was copy written in 1874-76 by James McBride, with a certification along the bottom in the hand of the interior secretary: I certify that this is a perfect fac-simile of the original document now on deposit in the Patent Office at Washington D. C./C. Delano/Secretary of the Interior, a seal of the Interior Department seal placed next to the statement.  The copy is 24 by 32 inches. Printed at the bottom, a notice for sale of copies, ‘sending 1.00 to the Continental Publishing Co. Philadelphia, Pa. will receive post – paid in a rolled paper/case a copy of this Declaration on Steel Plate Paper 24 X32 inches’. 


centennial copy

Centennial copy with no advertisement

1876 Declaration of Independence commemorating the Declaration's 100th anniversary. Philadelphia: Parchment Publishing Company: 1876. Printed on parchment-style paper and certified by the United States Secretary of the Interior as a commemorative re-issue of the original document. Copy of Declaration accurately reproduces original handwritten text and roster of signatures. Document measures approximately 24'' x 32''.

Centennial copy

McBride Centennial Memorial copy

This copy is approximately 15 by 19 and in the lower right corner advertises for local merchants in Worcester, Ma, it is contains the seal on the left, the certification is below the seal, stating the Secretary of the Interior certifies it to be an exact fac-simile of the original in the US Patent Office.   McBride copies found, each with advertisements in the lower portion, all with seals and the statement from the Secretary of the Interior, were not all printed by the same printer, this particular copy was printed by Columbia Printing company in Nassau New York.

Centennial copy

Centennial Memorial copy


This copy printed at Columbian Publishing Co. NY is 15 by 19, folded most likely for mailing; you may observe the advertisement in the lower right corner and the typical seal with certification.

 Centennial copy

Centennial Memorial Copy

All Centennial copies are typically the same and on the top have Centennial Memorial with the dates 1776 – 1876 adorned with the bald eagle and flags, most will have an advertisement however there are some found absent advertisements. 



Ohmans copy

Theodore Ohman's copy

Theodore Ohman Declaration of Independence. In 1942 master lithographer Ohman created this reproduction DOI in a two-step process: the background is a photo taken of the actual Declaration. Superimposed over this is an image taken from an original Stone engraving of the Declaration. The result is a remarkably realistic copy of the document as it would appear if the original ink not faded. Measures 32.5" x 26" Most Ohman copies are sponsored by a company and bears the name on the document, you may find them by Coca-cola, Bakeries, industrial companies, etc.

Upon arriving in the United States, Ohman made a trip to the Library of Congress to see the Constitution and the Declaration. Ohman was horrified to learn that the Declaration had been permanently damaged in 1823 and the Constitution was in very fragile condition. After seeing these marred and damaged originals, Ohman dedicated the remainder of his life to re-creating both the Declaration and Constitution as they originally appeared in 1776, so that people would always be able to appreciate the two documents that made and keep us free.

Ohman realized that if he could obtain one of the original parchment engravings, it would contain a more exact image of the original Declaration than the now-damaged original itself. After an exhaustive search, Ohman located one of the parchment copies made by Stone and immediately purchased it from this, the text of the script and the precise original signatures of the Founding Fathers were obtained for reproduction. As luck would have it, Ohman also located a negative of one of the last photographs taken of the original Declaration before it was sealed in its permanent glass shrine in 1903. From this picture, Ohman was able to reproduce the appearance of the cracked and smudged original parchment.



Ira Corn Copy

Ira Corn Copy

This copy was recreated from an original Dunlap Broadside printing. The Dunlap Broadside used is called the ‘Lost Copy’ as it was discovered in 1968 on a bookshelf at Leary’s Book Store in Philadelphia when the bookstore was closing after 132 years in business. The Lost copy was purchased at auction by Corn and Discoll, Dallas business executives for 404,000 in 1970. They first restored the document and then commissioned R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, The Lakeside Press to produce a limited set of facsimiles. Every detail from the paper type to the type of printing, being faithful to the original. Heavy Dutch chain laid paper obtained from near the place of origin as Dunlap’s Dutch paper, the printing was on a hand letter press with heavy impressions as exact as possible to the original. There is a slight wrinkle in the lower corner, as the original, the edges were die cut to the exact worn edges of the Dunlap original, stains replicated, age marks made, all exactly the original as it is today, even to the point of matching the back to the original. The size is exactly as the original copied, measuring 15 ½ by 19, varying the original due to age. There is a statement on the back declaring it as a copy to prevent any future confusion as to its exact age, and will authenticate it as a Ira Corn Declaration.

The original Dunlap Broadside [Corn’s} was then acquired by the City of Dallas where it is now housed. The facsimile copies were given to close friends; however over time the remaining copies were forgotten, until recently discovered, much like the original in a book store, still in the Donnelly wrapper. Ironic how history repeats itself.  It is not known how many copies Ira Corn actually produced or how many exist today.


modern copy

modern commercial copy

This copy is a small size, 15 ½ by 13 respectfully, and printed on aged vellum paper giving it an aged look. It is usually found folded in long rectangular folds so as to fit within a standard business size envelope.  It is a good copy to display in your home or office giving it a sense of age, the size small for easy hanging.


We know there are other copies made; what we have listed are among the most sought after and significantly made their mark upon the history of the Declaration of Independence.  Most colonies had their own broadsides and as we discover information in their regard we shall post for your viewing.

Please understand, the words of the Declaration of Independence are most sacred to citizens, those very words brought to us the birth of this nation, giving us the freedoms and liberties put forth in the Constitution. Our Founding Fathers, knew the importance of preserving the freedoms they fought for, the grievances bringing them to separate from Britain, gave cause for the articles and amendments within the Constitution preventing tyrannical power over citizens. The leaders of America are its citizens; our job as leaders is preventing elected officers authority for changing what we do not want or the Constitution does not allow. 

Read the words of the Declaration of Independence, hang it on your wall as a sign and remembrance, that you are a citizen of a free America.  If you find a copy or have a copy you think rare, research its size, style and paper, contact us if you need further assistance.