Dunlap Broadside [Declaration of Independence]


John Dunlap, official printer to the Continental Congress, produced the first printed versions of the American Declaration of Independence in his Philadelphia shop on the night of July 4, 1776. After the Declaration had been adopted by the Congress earlier that day, a committee took the manuscript document, possibly Thomas Jefferson's "fair copy" of his rough draft, to Dunlap for printing. On the morning of July 5, copies were dispatched by members of Congress to various assemblies, conventions, and committees of safety as well as to the commanders of Continental troops. Also on July 5, a copy of the printed version of the approved Declaration was inserted into the "rough journal" of the Continental Congress for July 4. The text was followed by the words "Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President. Attest. Charles Thomson, Secretary." It is not known how many copies of what came to be called “the Dunlap broadside” were printed on the night of the fourth. Twenty-five copies are known to exist: 20 owned by American institutions, two by British institutions, and three by private individuals. Shown here is a copy from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Last updated: January 8, 2018