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Crystal Bridges Museum opens exhibition of First Printed Edition of the Declaration of Independence

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents a temporary exhibition on view on view from June 30 through September 17, 2012, of rare early-American documents. The exhibition, titled “Declaration: Birth of America,” will include one of only 25 known existing copies of the printed broadside version of the Declaration of Independence, among other documents from the American Revolution. The exhibition is sponsored by Randy and Valorie Lawson / Lawco Energy Group, and Chip and Susan Chambers.

On the evening of July 4, 1776, the text of the newly penned Declaration of Independence was typeset in the Philadelphia printing shop of John Dunlap and 200 large-format “broadside” copies were printed. These were rapidly distributed throughout the colonies to inform them of their new independence. Though it is not the famous hand-written version of the Declaration, and bears no signatures, the Dunlap Broadside was, in fact, the first published Declaration of Independence to be distributed to the colonies. The “official” handwritten document, which is on permanent view in the National Archives in Washington DC, was probably not signed until August, 1776.

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