The first newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence will go to auction on June 25 in New York City as a part of Robert A. Siegel Galleries’ 50th annual Rarities of the World event. This historic document ran in the Saturday, July 6, 1776 issue of Benjamin Towne’s The Pennsylvania Evening Post and was the first printing of the Declaration of Independence in a newspaper — and the second printing of it in any form.
Seth Kaller, an expert in the acquisition, authentication, and appraisal of American historic documents and artifacts, is working with the Robert A. Siegel Galleries in coordinating this sale. Mr. Kaller has also pointed out that this is the first publication of the Declaration that closely follows Thomas Jefferson’s writing style.
“The Pennsylvania Evening Post reflects the experience of everyday Americans as they read news of independence for the first time during that momentous July of 1776. Thus, the document we are auctioning is in a way even more ‘original’ than the National Archives’ signed manuscript,” said Seth Kaller.
Kaller went on to say that the actual document was created the next month for posterity rather than as a means of announcing America’s independence to the world. “The Post’s printing was distributed far and wide, even by the members of the Continental Congress.”
The Post’s issue was only preceded by the official broadside, a single page with text on one side, that was published by John Dunlap on July 5. Oddly enough, even though Dunlap ran the first printing, Towne printed the Declaration in newspaper form first, beating Dunlap’s own paper The Pennsylvania Packet by two days.
“We discovered something significant while researching the first two Declaration publications. Our evidence about the differences is spelled out in the catalog. The most intriguing upshot of showing that the Post follows Thomas Jefferson’s style, while the Dunlap follows John Adams’s style, is that this may mean that there were two different July 4, 1776 original manuscripts of the Declaration.”