Just As I Thought

Self-Evident Truths

The last day of our conference featured a little bit of history: courtesy of Lyn and Norman Lear, a display of the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence. The what you ask? Well, here’s how the story goes. On July 4, 1776, after all the hard work was done and the Declaration was approved, a Phildelphia printer named John Dunlap was given the task of printing the announcement to be posted for the populace. The “engrossed” version which is on display at the National Archives was actually made a month later in August.
Until recently, there were 24 copies of the broadside known to be in existence — then a copy was discovered folded up behind a framed picture bought at for $4. It was later sold at auction for $8 million to Norman Lear, who has been touring it around the country for the last couple of years, determined to bring this important piece of history to it’s heirs — the American people.
It’s fascinating to stand there looking at it. It seems so small and ordinary. In fact, it’s so well preserved that it looks new. The language is a little weird, spelling is strange, and there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the capitalization.
But then you begin to read it — a pretty simple list of complaints on the surface, but deep down, it’s a realization that there are some absolute rights handed down to us by nature which can’t be suppressed. And this simple list was a stunning act of treason. (This first publication pointed the finger right at John Hancock and Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress. Even the printer took a chance – he printed his name right at the bottom. The famous signers didn’t sign it until a month later, leaving these three out there taking the chances.)
When those far right wackos start to harp on about not being patriotic, take solace in the fact that treason is in the eye of the beholder.
[I took this picture with my phone camera before we let the public in to see it… their policy is “no pictures, please” to preserve the document (that’s their euphemism for it, “the document”). But since my phone had no flash, they let me bend the rules.]

Browse the Archive

Browse by Category