Second copy of the Declaration of Independence found

by 21/04/2017 20:18:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Harvard academics discovered a second parchment copy in Chichester, Sussex 
  • The only other parchment copy is on display at the National Archives in DC
  • It has been dated back to the 1780s and is not an official government document
  • Researchers believe it belonged to the Duke of Richmond and was commissioned by James Wilson of Pennsylvania

By Abigail Miller For Dailymail.com

Published: 23:12 BST, 21 April 2017 | Updated: 01:18 BST, 22 April 2017

Harvard academics have discovered a second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence at a records office in southern England. 

The only other parchment copy is on display at the National Archives in Washington, DC, researchers Emily Sneff and Daniel Allen have said in a statement to the Boston Globe. 

The newly discovered document has been dated to the 1780s and was found in the town of Chichester's archives. 

Harvard academics have discovered a second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence at a records office in southern England
Harvard academics have discovered a second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence at a records office in southern England

Harvard academics have discovered a second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence at a records office in southern England

It is believed to have originally belonged to the Duke of Richmond, or the 'Radical Duke,' who left behind a legacy of advanced views on parliamentary reform. During the Revolutionary War he gave significant support to the Americans, reported the Globe. 

The document was most likely created in New York or Philadelphia, and researchers are trying to determine who wrote it and paid for it to be copied. 

It is believed to have originally belonged to the Duke of Richmond, or the 'Radical Duke,' (pictured) who left behind a legacy of advanced views on parliamentary reform
It is believed to have originally belonged to the Duke of Richmond, or the 'Radical Duke,' (pictured) who left behind a legacy of advanced views on parliamentary reform

It is believed to have originally belonged to the Duke of Richmond, or the 'Radical Duke,' (pictured) who left behind a legacy of advanced views on parliamentary reform

It is not an official government document, like the original, but a display copy likely created  by a commercial clerk in the 1780's, reported the New York Times.

They believe that the document was probably commissioned by James Wilson of Pennsylvania. 

The signatories on the Sussex version of the document are not broken down by state, unlike the National Archives copy, researchers said. 

Instead, the 56 signatures were done in a seemingly random order, which, researchers argue points to Wilson. 

The copy is, otherwise, strikingly similar in appearance to the 1776 version. 

Their team is working with British officials to test the document in the safest way possible so as to not damage the parchment.

Wilson worked with others on the original draft of the Constitution, and was one of the first justices appointed to the Supreme Court.

'The team hypothesizes that this detail supported efforts, made by Wilson and his allies during the Constitutional Convention and ratification process, to argue that the authority of the Declaration rested on a unitary national people, and not on a federation of states,' the researchers wrote in a statement to the Globe.  

They believe that Wilson wanted to influence the debate over the Constitution, which is why he had the copy made, and could help to answer the question at the core of American politics regarding whether or not the country was founded by a united nation of people or a collection of states.   

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