Detail the the engrossed copy of the U.S. Statements of freedom that is on screen at the nationwide Archives, Washington, DC.

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Each year, much more than a million world walk v the cold, dark Rotunda of the national Archives in Washington DC come glimpse the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Dubbed the engrossed copy, the message of the statements is handwritten in large letters ~ above parchment that is encased in a frame of pure titanium with gold plating. The document, special the signatures that fifty-six members of the second Continental Congress, is bad faded, but the headline still reads clearly: “In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous statements of the thirteen United claims of America.”<1>

What the majority of visitors don’t understand is that the presented Declaration, so very closely preserved and protected, was old news even in 1776. The engrossed copy no authorized by Congress till July 19, 1776, and also wasn’t signed by many members until August 2. By then, the Declaration had been printed and reprinted in at the very least twenty-nine American newspapers and also one magazine.

On July 2, congress voted because that independence, and two days later it approved the message of its official declaration. The July 2 concern of the Pennsylvania night Post and July 3 version of the Pennsylvania Gazette, both Philadelphia newspapers, had the first official word that “the continental CONGRESS declared the united COLONIES free and live independence STATES.” Then, top top July 5, the complete text the the Declaration to be typeset and printed in man Dunlap’s Philadelphia print shop with copies quickly dispatched to assorted committees, assemblies, military commanders and also foreign nations.


Breaking news today is practically instantaneous through journalists, bloggers and also citizen reporters often completing to transfer announcements top top Twitter, Facebook, cable news, radio and also websites. Throughout the American Revolution, also the most an important intelligence can only travel at the speed of the fastest steed or ship, frequently taking weeks to with other colonies or nations by treacherous postal roads or sea routes. Nevertheless, the british Empire’s eighteenth-century newspaper network was the quickest way of spreading news, which was still taken into consideration fresh on arrival since it to be the recent information human being had.

News the American freedom reached London the second week of august via the Mercury packet ship, which cruised with necessary correspondence from basic William Howe to lord George Germain, date July 7 and also 8, at Staten Island. The London Gazette, the main Crown organ, very first broke the news in that Saturday, august 10 edition. A 16-word, 106-character, Twitter-esque extract indigenous a Howe letter read: “I am notified that the continent Congress have declared the unified Colonies free and live independence States.”

Later that day, the London Evening-Post had its own version that the breaking news: “Advice is received that the Congress resolved upon self-reliance the fourth of July; and also have claimed war against great Britain in form.” The same blurb appeared in the Tuesday, august 13 problem of the London Chronicle. Top top Wednesday, the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser printed “Copies of the Declarations of battle by the Provincials are now in Town and also are claimed to it is in couched in the the strongest terms.”

Back in America, freedom celebrations were short-lived together the Continental military suffered crushing defeat after defeat throughout the new York Campaign. Later on that winter, following decisive American victories in ~ Trenton and also Princeton, conference ordered Baltimore printer mar Katherine Goddard to publish a broadside based upon the engrossed copy. With this January 1777 broadside, the American public an initial learned of every fifty-five signers the the explanation (Thomas McKlean that Delaware added his fifty-sixth signature later in the war).

By 1777, the Declaration was old news, domestically and internationally. It had actually traversed the globe and also been printed in many languages through dozens of foreign newspapers and magazines. It was the eighteenth century identical of going viral. Attempting come retrace the printing steps of the explanation in newspapers and magazines is much easier among American publications through the July 6 Pennsylvania Evening post holding the undisputed title of first newspaper printing. However, throughout the pond, retracing europe news to press steps has actually been a messy, legend-loaded challenge.

Since at least 2007, the Belfast News-Letter believed it had earned “arguably the greatest-ever scoop” by posting the U.S. Declaration of independence before any kind of other europe newspaper, and before King George III gained word. In 2010, the claim was echoed by the day-to-day Mail, one of the joined Kingdom’s largest everyday papers, which detailed it together the number one greatest newspaper scoop of all time. Supposedly, the ship carrying the very first copy the the Declaration indigenous America to London ran into heavy storms turn off the coastline of Ireland, which brought about a detour and also resulted in the Belfast exclude, on respectable 27, 1776.<2>

As they might have said in the eighteenth century: Hogwash.

The august 15-17, 1776, worry is the London Chronicle consists of one the the earliest european printings of the U.S. Explanation of Independence. Two London newspapers published the complete text that the Declaration prior to the Chronicle, on respectable 16. Photo courtesy of Todd Andrlik

Having seen and held previously European newspaper printings that the Declaration, ns knew the story–which had been trumpeted ~ above BBC, Wikipedia and at least one book from an scholastic press–was untrue.<3> One 1776 brothers newspaper that ns knew debunked the Belfast myth was the august 17 execution of the London Chronicle. Unfortunately, the London Chronicle is likewise often mislabeled for being the first British or europe printing of the Declaration.<4>

Based on mine research and also correspondence v the brothers Library, it appears that 2 August 16 newspapers–Public Advertiser and also Lloyd’s night Post and also British Chronicle (both native London)–are the best bets for first European printings the the U.S. Statements of Independence. Castle scooped the London Chronicle (and a fifty percent dozen other newspapers) by mere hours.<5> The explanation was published in Edinburgh, Scotland, on respectable 20; Dublin, Ireland, on respectable 22; Frankfort, Germany, on august 23; and also Kilkenny, Ireland, on august 24. So, when the London Chronicle lost the scoop by hours, the Belfast News-Letter clearly did not even come close come earning the global exclusive, or the British, or the Irish.

The European list oddity is the it lacks French newspaper printings that the Declaration. That’s due to the fact that the initial copy that the Committee of mystery Correspondence sent to Silas Deane, an American agent in Paris, never arrived. On July 8, the committee sent out a copy that the Declaration along with instructions to spread out the word v French translation and reprints in the regional gazettes, however it was shed in transport. Follow-up correspondence to Deane, date August 7, come in mid-November, yet the French were already reading around American independence in the English, German and also Dutch newspapers, including the French-language Gazette de Leyde (Netherlands), critical and well-circulated political newspaper, which printed the declaration in its respectable 30 edition.<6>

To help future writers and researchers correctly identify the chronology that American and also European newspaper and also magazine printings of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, ns figured I’d maintain a living source that will be updated together edits and new information space uncovered. Due to the fact that this perform is mostly intended to exactly myths about “who published it first,” ns am limiting the American list to those newspapers and also magazines released in July 1776. Similarly, the list of europe newspaper and also magazine printings will be minimal to just those that released the text of the statements in respectable 1776. Also, in instances where a newspaper problem date is a range, such together the august 15-17 London Chronicle, just the later on date, the day of really circulation, is provided.

First American Newspaper and Magazine Printings of the U.S. Explanation of Independence, July 1776

July 6 – Pennsylvania Evening short article (Philadelphia)July 8 – Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia)July 9 – Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote (Philadelphia)July 9 – Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette (Baltimore)July 10 – Maryland newspaper (Baltimore)July 10 – Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia)July 10 – Pennsylvania Journal (Philadelphia)July 10 – constitution Gazette (New York)July 11 – new York PacketJuly 11 – new York JournalJuly 11 – Maryland Gazette (Annapolis)July 12 – Connecticut Gazette (New London)July 13 – Pennsylvania Ledger (Philadelphia)July 13 – Providence GazetteJuly 15 – brand-new York Gazette July 15 – Connecticut Courant (Hartford)July 15 – Norwich PacketJuly 16 – new Hampshire Gazette especially (Exeter)July 16 – American Gazette (Salem)July 17 – Massachusetts Spy (Worcester)July 17 – Connecticut journal (New Haven)July 18 – Continental newspaper (Boston)July 18 – new England Chronicle (Boston)July 18 – Newport Mercury ExtraordinaryJuly 19 – Essex journal (Newburyport)July 19 – Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, by Purdie – extract; in full July 26)July 20 – Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, through Dixon & Hunter)July 20 – Freeman’s journal (Portsmouth)July 22 – Boston Gazette (Watertown)July – The Pennsylvania newspaper (Philadelphia, just dated July)August 2 – South Carolina & American basic Gazette (Charleston – although printed in August, this was a weekly title and in production throughout the last week of July)

First europe Newspaper and also Magazine Printings the the U.S. Declaration of Independence, respectable 1776

August 16 – publicly Advertiser (London)August 16 – Lloyd’s evening Post, and also British Chronicle (London)August 17 – London ChronicleAugust 17 – Morning Chronicle and also London AdvertiserAugust 17 – Gazetteer and brand-new Daily Advertiser (London)August 17 – London night PostAugust 17 – general Evening write-up (London)August 17 – Middlesex Journal and Evening Advertiser (London)August 17 – St. James Chronicle, or the brother Evening short article (London)August 20 – Edinburgh Advertiser (Edinburgh, Scotland)August 20 – Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Scotland)August 20 – Courier de l’Europe (London)August 21 – Edinburgh night Courant (Edinburgh, Scotland)August 22 – brothers Chronicle or Pugh’s Hereford newspaper (Hereford, England)August 22 – windy Register: Or, Freeman’s journal (Dublin, Ireland)August 22 – The Weekly magazine (Edinburgh, Scotland)August 23 – Altonaischer Mercurius (Hamburg, Germany, extract; in complete August 26)August 23 – Francfort Oberpostamtszeitung (Frankfort, Germany, extract)August 24 – The situation (London)August 24 – The Leinster newspaper (Kilkenny, Ireland)August 24 – Staats- und Gelehrte-Zeitung des Hamburgischen unparteyischen Correspondenten (Hamburg, Germany, extract)August 27 – Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland)August 27 – Gaceta de Madrid (Madrid, Spain)August 30 – Gazette de Leyde (Leiden, Netherlands)August 30 – Göteborgs Allehanda (Gothenburg, Sweden)August 31 – Wienerisches Diarium (Vienna, Austria)August – The basic Magazine (London, only dated August)August – The Gentleman’s newspaper (London, only dated August)August – The London Magazine (London, just dated August, extract)August – The Monthly Miscellany (London, just dated August)August – The Scots magazine (Edinburgh, Scotland, just dated August)August – The Sentimental magazine (London, only dated August)August – The universal Magazine (London, just dated August)August – The Weekly magazine (Edinburgh, only dated August)August – The Westminster magazine (London, just dated August)

These room the known very first printings the the U.S. Statements of independence in American and European newspapers and also magazines. While I believe the American list is fairly comprehensive, ns assume there are at least a couple of more respectable 1776 european newspaper and magazine printings the the Declaration, however I just don’t have accessibility to the global archives come confirm. The said, this list will certainly be to update as new information is uncovered.

In addition to my very own research that newspaper archives and also conversations through institutions, the complying with sources were provided to make the over lists:

Clarence S. Brigham, Journals and also Journeymen: A donation to the background of beforehand American newspapers (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950), 58-59.David Armitage, The explanation of Independence: A an international History (Harvard university Press, 2007), 70. Note: Incorrectly days Freeman’s newspaper (Dublin) printing as August 24. That is august 22. Correctly cites “British Chronicle” because that its an initial European printing, but does not point out the publicly Advertiser. Original source is The Nation, 66 (Feb. 17, 1898), which likewise omits the Advertiser.Thorkild Kjaergaard, Denmark gets the News of ’76 (Danish Bicentennial Committee, 1975). Note: wrongly cites respectable 17 London Chronicle as an initial London newspaper printing of Declaration.

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November 12, 2013: included a print by Courier de l’Europe. Hat tip: will Slauter, Université Paris 8.July 5, 2015: included Pennsylvania Journal, July 10, 1776. Hat tip: Seth Kaller.