Friday, July 04, 2008

postdated

in order to form a more perfect union

The manuscript written on vellum, dated July 4, 1776, now displayed in a baroque case at the National Archives, where it is protected by bulletproof glass, argon gas and the 55-ton underground vault it is lowered into every night ... was not written on July 4; it was a handwritten copy that Congress ordered later that summer and post-dated. The version that was in the room as the vote was taken has never been seen since then.


Ted Widmer writing in Looking for Liberty (in this morning's New York Times) about the extant copies of the Declaration of Independence, which was spirited away for printing and distribution shortly after it was signed, and then misplaced.

Caught my attention because I was once sternly advised by the legal department of the organization I worked for that it was NOT okay to sign and postdate documents -- if we all wanted to stay out of jail.

This also caught my attention when I pulled out the replica of the Declaration that I picked up at the Library of Congress on its fake crinkly parchment (that yes makes me cry every time I read it -- how many ways can you spell g.e.e.k.?):

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.


Just sayin'.



& p.s. The Declaration in "American" as translated by H.L. Mencken and run just recently in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch »

3 comments:

anniemcq said...

My brother picked up a copy of that same crinkly parchment when he went to a Boy Scout wingding in DC back in the early 60's. And yeah, it makes me a little weepy too.

Happy 4th, friend. Here's hoping that next year we've got a little more to celebrate.

em said...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
oh what it's written *on*, you can lose! but that it *has* ever been written is a treasure (and the map to this treasure, none can damage)
Happy 4th of July

mrtn said...

I thought Nicholas Cage stole the declaration of independence?

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