The Signers Declaration of Independence Approved by Congress

Courtesy of Special Collections
University of Virginia Library

Declaration of Independence Approved by Congress

July 5, 1776

Only John Hancock of Massachusetts as President of the Continental Congress and Secretary Charles Thomson signed the first manuscript copy on July 4. This manuscript was sent immediately to the official printer, John Dunlap of Philadelphia, for publication and distribution. What subsequently happened to the original manuscript is unknown. The broadside was sent out to the army and the state assemblies.

The inhabitants of Williamsburg read exciting news in the Virginia Gazette of July 5. Their new state government was outlined, Patrick Henry had been elected governor, and the war news from New York was ominous. The flurry of activity in town is further evidenced in advertisements and notices, merchants were selling armaments, the army was purchasing horses, contracting with gunsmiths and shoemakers, medical supplies were being assembled, and a reward posted for two deserters. This issue was not the usual four pages long; both a two-page supplement and a two-page postscript were added, making the total size of the paper eight pages long!

News of the Declaration did not reach Williamsburg until July 19, when printer Alexander Purdy published an excerpt in the Virginia Gazette and promised the full text in the next issue - July 26.

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