[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. Manuscript orderly book, kept by at least two unidentified officers of the Continental Army serving with Washington's forces in New York (probably Brigadier General Gold S. Silliman's Connecticut militia), Headquarters,  July 1776 through 21 August 1776.
Together 158pp., 7½ x 6 in., worn, a few pages detached at each end, several leaves frayed at edges, scattered light dampstains, remains of black paper spine. Containing two overlapping sequences in different hands: one 145-page sequence runs from  July 1776 to 21 August 1776, another 13-page segment (written from the other end of the book) runs from 8 to 13 July 1776.
"WHEN, IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS...": WASHINGTON DIRECTS THAT THE NEWLY ADOPTED DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE BE READ BEFORE THE CONTINENTAL ARMY IN NEW YORK
A remarkable 1776 orderly book, evidently kept for Brigadier General Silliamn's Connecticut militia, containing two separate versions of Washington's famous General Orders of 9 July 1776 in which he announced to the Continental Army that Congress had formally declared the 13 colonies to be independent of Great Britain, and ordered that the momentous text be proclaimed "in an audible voice" before the assembled troops in and around New York. (Both versions vary slightly from the published text.) Silliman (1732-1790) commanded his Brigade during the Battle of Long Island and later at Danbury. One orderly records the Commander-in-Chief's orders of 9 July as follows:
"...The Honorable the Continental Congress impelled by the dictates of duty, policy and necessity, having been pleased to dissolve the connection between this Congress and Great Britain, and to declare those united colonies of North America free and independent states, the several Brigades are to be drawn up this evening in their respective perades [sic] at six o clock when the Declaration of Congress shewing the grounds and reasons of these measures is to be read with a laudable [sic: audible] voice. The General hopes that this important point will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier, to act with fidelity and courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of this country depends under God on the success of our arms...."
Washington furthermore directs ranking officers to distribute printed copies of the Declaration: "The Brigade Magors [Majors] are to receive, at the Adjutant General's office several of the Declarations to be delivered to the several Brigades and Cols. Of Regiments..." [Washington's published order reads "delivered to the Brigadiers General, and the Colonels of Regiments."]
On the evening following the public reading of the Declaration of Independence, the celebrations in Manhattan grew impassioned, culminating in the toppling and destruction of the grand, gilded equestrian statue of King George III at the foot of Broadway at Bowling Green. The balance of the book contains a detailed record of the New York garrison and its affairs while it and its commander awaited the long-expected British assault. Rather ominously, the present orderly book terminates on 21 August: the day the British under Howe landed at Gravesend, Brooklyn and launched their successful campaign to wrest control of New York from Washington and his army. For the full text of Washington's 9 June order see Fitzpatrick 5:244-146.
Provenance: Ebenezer Hazard (1744-1817); postmaster of New York (1775), Surveyor General of the Continental Post Office (1776), U.S. Postmaster General (1782-1789); his descendants