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Boulder, The Declaration Of Independence, The United States Constitution

Our United States Founding Documents define our system of government and our reasons for forming the government to begin with. What IS the Declaration of Independence?? How many copies are there? Why do we read it aloud, passing around a copy, at our BBQ? For this morning, and in celebration of the Fourth of July, 2024, let’s look at just how many copies there are of the Declaration of Independence and of the United States Constitution?

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While there are multiple “originals” of the United States Constitution which served different purposes, there is only one Declaration of Independence. BUT there are additional versions which served different purposes.

There is one original engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence, which is the formal handwritten document signed by the Continental Congress on August 2, 1776. This original copy is housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

However, there are several other significant early versions and copies of the Declaration:

1. Dunlap Broadsides: About 200 copies were printed by John Dunlap on the night of July 4, 1776. These were distributed throughout the colonies to spread the news of independence. Twenty-six of these are known to still exist.
2. Handwritten Copies: Thomas Jefferson made several handwritten copies of his draft of the Declaration, which he sent to friends and colleagues. These copies reflect some of the changes made during the drafting process.
3. Congressional Copies: Congress ordered additional copies of the Declaration to be printed for official use and distribution. These are also considered important historical documents but are not the original engrossed copy.

While there is only one official original engrossed copy, these various early prints and drafts also hold significant historical value.

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There are multiple originals of the United States Constitution, which were created to serve different official purposes. Here is a breakdown of the key versions:

1. The Official Engrossed Copy: This is the primary handwritten copy signed by the delegates at the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. It is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
2. Official Copies Sent to States: After the Constitution was signed, copies were made and sent to the 13 states for ratification. Each state received a printed copy that was used in the ratification debates.
3. The State Department Copies: The Department of State created official copies for its own use and for sending to foreign governments.

These copies were crucial in ensuring that each state had the opportunity to review and debate the proposed Constitution. Therefore, while the official engrossed copy is the most well-known and is considered the primary document, there are several other original copies that were used for ratification and official purposes.

Lenny Lensworth Frieling

Shared Knowledge Is Power!


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