DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled. When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation...We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions do, in the name and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved...And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. Signed by Order, and in Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President.... [America: Boston: Printed by John Gill, and Powars and Willis, 1776]. Folio broadside (17 x 12 7/8 in.), heading in bold display types, main text in two columns. Imprint and printed rule trimmed at bottom. Early endorsement: "Declaration of Independency 4 July 1776" on verso. Several neat mends at folds and margins (just catching three letters in second column), minor spotting, otherwise in very good condition. FIRST BOSTON AND TENTH BROADSIDE EDITION OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE An important and rare early broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence, marking the publication of the momentous text in Boston, indisputable cradle of the revolution. Two variants have been noted: This, the second issue, has: a) additional leading in the headlines; b) the word "Declare" in the last paragraph correctly spelled; and c) rule and imprint added. ONLY A VERY FEW COPIES OF THE EARLY BROADSIDE EDITIONS SURVIVE. Utilitarian in purpose and essentially ephemeral, the fragile format of the post-Dunlap printings vitually guaranteed their infrequent survival. The number of copies printed by Gill, Powars and Willis is not known and only a few examples of each variant survives. Evans 15161; Ford, Massachusetts Broadsides, 1954; Michael Walsh, "Contemporary Broadside Editions of the Declaration of Independence," in Harvard Library Journal, vol.3, no.1 (Winter 1949), pp.38, number 10. Five copies of Walsh's 9 are recorded, all in permanent institutions; six copies are known of Walsh 10: Boston Public Library, Bostonian Society, Massachusetts Historical Society, University of Virginia (Albert Small Collection, from Julia auction 7-29-99), Private (the present copy, Sotheby's, 5-22-1990), Private (from Skinner, 11-18-2007, $693,500). The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson later wrote, was intended "to be an expression of the American mind," reflecting "the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion" (letter to Henry Lee, 8 May 1825). The Continental Congress, after authorizing the writing of the Declaration and approving the text submitted by Thomas Jefferson and his committee, took steps to ensure the rapid dissemination of the historic document. When the approved text was adopted on 4 July, Congress directed that copies "be sent to the several Assemblies, Conventions & Committees or Councils of Safety and that it be proclaimed in each of the United States." Philadelphia printer John Dunlap, working on the night of July 4, set in type a bold broadside of the Declaration, and beginning on July 5 and 6, copies were dispatched by John Hancock, President of Congress, to the state assemblies and to Generals George Washington and Artemas Ward. The quick dissemination of the historic text of the Declaration may be vividly traced in newspapers and broadside editions from its birthplace in Philadelphia throughout the thirteen self-proclaimed states, as rapidly as express riders and the post could carry it. The citizens of Baltimore were able to read the critical document as early as 9 July in Dunlap's Maryland Gazette; New Yorkers could read it July 9 to 11 in three of that city's newspapers and one broadside printing. The Maryland Gazette, in Annapolis, published it on the 11th. The next three weeks saw newspaper or broadside printings in New London, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford, Norwich, Exeter, Salem, Worcester, New Haven, Portsmouth and Williamsburg. In Salem, the Massachusetts state capital, the council ordered broadsides of the text sent to town clerks, and to ministers of all denominations, to be read before their congregations. The Declaration arrived in Boston, seat of the Revolution, as early as 13 July, and city officials ordered it publicly proclaimed from the balcony of the State House on July 18, the same day it appeared in John Gill's Continental Journal and Powar's and Willis's New-England Chronicle. The three printers--Gill, Powars and Willis--co-published the present imposing broadside, perhaps preceding the newspaper publications. By the end of August 1776, the Declaration had been printed in at least 29 newspapers and 14 broadsides. A NOTE ON THE TEXT. On or about July 17, 1776, printers in three New England cities--Solomon Southwick in Newport, E. Russell in Salem and John Gill in Boston--prepared broadside editions based on John Dunlap's 4 July broadside Declaration of Independence. In their editions, Southwick, Russell and Gill all altered Dunlap's adjectival "divine" to the noun "Divine." Gill was the only printer of the three to set the text in a two-column format. Congress's formal authentication of the text was approved by Congress "En banc" on 18 January 1777. That authenticated version was printed by Mary Goddard in Baltimore (where Congress was encamped during the British occupation of Philadelphia). Gill's two column format and capitalization of "Divine" curiously anticipate Congress's authenticated version by more than five months. Additional research may clarify the evolution of this fundamental text and the sequence of printings.
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