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The first printing of the document that founded the nation is the most important publication in the Historical Society collections. John Dunlap, a Philadelphia newspaper printer, turned out a small number of broadside copies on the night of 4-5 July, and independence was proclaimed in Philadelphia on 5 July 1776. On 18 July, Abigail Adams was in the crowd that heard the Declaration read aloud—perhaps from this very copy—from the balcony of the Old State House in Boston.
John Adams served with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston on the Committee of Five that the Continental Congress appointed to draft the Declaration. Jefferson prepared a rough draft that was revised by Adams and Franklin. Congress voted to adopt a resolution for independence on 2 July and continued to revise the Declaration until 4 July, when it authorized the Committee to print the corrected text.
The collections of the Historical Society contains several documents that serve as a case study for the use of personal papers—letters and documents written by John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson—in the study of an epochal event in American history.
Provenance: In the Historical Society before 1812.