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Declaration Signer’s Copy of the Declaration of Independence
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Roger Sherman’s copy of the 1776 Journals of Congress, including the Declaration of Independence, signed on the title page. This is the first printing of the Declaration in book form, the second printing to list the names of the signers (after the Goddard broadside) and the third official printing overall (after the Dunlap and Goddard broadsides).

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS]. ROGER SHERMAN. Signed Book. Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings in the Year, 1776. Published by Order of Congress. Volume II. Philadelphia. Robert Aitken, 1777. First edition. Rebound. [2], 513, [26, Index] pages. The Declaration is printed on pages 241-246.

Inventory #26426       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Roger Sherman(1721-1793) was the only person to sign all four great American state papers: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Starting as a shoemaker, he became a lawyer, and served in the Connecticut House of Representatives and Governor’s Council, and then in Continental Congress. He was on the Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence (with Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Livingston), and later served as a Senator and Congressman, and the treasurer of Yale.

The Journals of Congress
Robert Aitken printed eighty copies each of monthly issue of the Journals for January through April 1776, solely for the use of the members. That fall, Congress ordered a new uniform edition, in smaller type to minimize cost. Aitken reprinted the 1774 First and 1775 Second Continental Congress Journals combined into Volume I, and then reprinted the beginning of 1776 for the second volume. Aitken had to stop printing monthly after May, so this Volume II, for June-December 1776, completed by Aitken in the spring or summer of 1777, is the first edition containing the Declaration of Independence.

On September 26, 1777, as the British marched into Philadelphia unopposed, Aitken had to abandon his press and print shop, though he was able to take with him already printed pages 1-424 (per his original pagination). Aitken’s account book records 532 copies of the first edition. Bibliographers are unclear if this includes the incomplete books he evacuated from Philadelphia.

Additional major texts found in this volume for 1776 include: accounts of the colonies’ desperate need for money, muskets and gunpowder, and communications with Washington, as well as negotiations with Indians and Canada; resolution that all who are “notoriously disaffected to the cause of America” must be disarmed (p. 91); Resolution approving privateering by authorizing friendly vessels to employ “force of arms, attack, subdue, and take all ships… carrying soldiers, arms, gun-powder, ammunition, provisions, or any other contraband goods, to any of the British armies or ships of war” (p. 119); April 6th resolution “that no Slaves be imported into any of the Thirteen United Colonies” (p. 122); 18 articles of war (p. 365-81).

On June 7, Congress first reports that “certain resolutions respecting Independency are moved and seconded.” On June 8, Richard Henry Lee’s motion for Independence is referred to a committee of the whole Congress (p. 204-5). On July 2, 1776, Congress actually declares independence, by passing the resolution “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” (p. 239)

It is interesting to note that no 1776 printing of the Declaration, including the Dunlap broadside, listed the signers’ names. The first to do so was the broadside Congress ordered from Mary Goddard of Baltimore in early 1777. This 1776 Journals of Congress, published in 1777, allowed the names of the signers to become more widely known (except for Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania, who did not sign the engrossed Declaration until 1781).

Provenance: Anderson Galleries (Books from the Libraries of J.K. Paulding and H.C. Bernheim), January 20-21, 1919. 1351-536.

This volume was purchased from Heritage as part of a complete mixed run of the thirteen volumes of the Journals,1777-1788. Includes volumes from the libraries, and with the signatures, of important American statesmen Gen. Jonathan Sullivan, Roger Sherman, John Langdon, Gunning Bedford, Jr., Peter du Ponçeau, Gen. Samuel John Attlee, and Richard Rush.