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Delivering Dunlap Declaration of Independence Broadsides in July 1776
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A unique document related to the distribution by courier of Dunlap Declaration of Independence broadsides. John Nixon, to whom this document is directed for payment, was the first person to read the Declaration publicly, on Monday, July 8, before a large crowd in Philadelphia at the State House Yard. He went on to become one of the founders of the Bank of North America, established in 1783.

The Dunlap Declaration that I bought and sold for a couple of million dollars in 1995 is now worth $40 million or more. What will this Pay Order be worth to the buyer of the next one?

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. Owen Biddle. Manuscript Document Signed as member of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, July 10, 1776, Philadelphia. Ordering John Nixon of the Committee of Accounts to pay Michael Kuhn “£11..12..6” for his couriers to deliver copies of the Declaration of Independence (Dunlap broadsides) to Chester, Lancaster and Bucks counties, and Potts Grove (in Northumberland County). Docketed on verso. 1 p., 8¼ x 5⅛ in.

Inventory #27470       SOLD — please inquire about other items

On July 5, the Continental Congress authorized that “copies of the Declaration be sent to the several Assemblies, Conventions, and Councils of Safety, and to the several Commanding Officers of the Continental Troops, that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the Army.”

The Pennsylvania Committee of Safety received Congress’s resolution on Saturday, July 6, entered it into their minutes, and ruled that “In consequence of the above Resolve, Letters were wrote to the Counties of Bucks, Chester, Northampton, Lancaster, and Berks, Inclosing a Copy of the said Declaration, requesting the same to be publish’d on Monday next, at the places where the Election for Delegates are to be held.” (John H. Hazelton, The Declaration of Independence: Its History (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1906)

Per the resolution, the Committee of Safety hired Michael Kuhn, who owned a stable in Philadelphia, and he provided four couriers to deliver them by horseback. This pay order is reproduced in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 16 (October 1892), p. 309.

Provenance: Passed down within the Biddle family.