Independence Day for America  is marked every year by fireworks and merriment, just as John Adams had hoped it would be – Photo by Michael Dougherty (with CC license on Flickr)

238 years ago, on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress, led by John Adams, voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence.The colonists risked everything to break with the King of England, and enumerated their reasons for doing so, by signing one of the greatest documents of all time, penned by Thomas Jefferson.

Declaration of Independence - DunlapThough it wouldn’t be signed for another month, printer John Dunlap began making 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence that night. As of 1989, only 24 copies of the “Dunlap broadsides” were known to exist, until a flea market shopper paid four dollars for a framed painting, and while inspecting a tear in the lining behind the painting, the owner discovered a folded Dunlap broadside. It was purchased at an online Sotheby’s auction for $8.14 million in 2000 by Norman Lear and taken on a “Declare Yourself” tour across America. 21 broadsides are housed in universities, libraries and public halls, 4 are in private hands, but promised to public collections.

Read an excerpt of the preamble below, read the document here, or listen to the entire declaration read by NPR radio personalities here:

fireworks-dc-monument-pubdomain.jpgWe hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal,
that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government…


Leave a Reply