Declaration of Independence

As printed in the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 6, 1776

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In July 1776, most Americans read or heard the words of the Declaration of Independence via newspapers and printed broadsides. This issue of the Pennsylvania Evening Post, published on July 6, 1776, was the first newspaper to print the now famous document.

After writing and signing the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress declared that its full text should be communicated to the states, army, and general public “in such a mode, as that the people may be universally informed of it.” As such, John Dunlap, printer to the Continental Congress, supervised as the text of the Declaration was immediately set in type and printed as broadsides for distribution to the new states and troops, read aloud, and posted in public areas.

To further spread the word, the Declaration was printed in numerous newspapers, the first of which was published by Benjamin Towne in the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 6, 1776. Towne’s modest four page newspaper printed the Declaration on pages one and two. On page two, the Declaration shares space with advertisements for ships, hay, coffee, and silver watches.

In the days and weeks that followed, the Declaration was printed in newspapers across the new nation. In Philadelphia, a German language translation appeared in the July 9, 1776, issue of the Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote, a newspaper that served Pennsylvania’s large German-speaking community. It was followed by newspapers in Baltimore (July 9 and 10), New York and Annapolis (July 11), New London, Hartford, and Norwich, Connecticut (July 12 and 15), Exeter, New Hampshire, and Salem, Massachusetts (July 16), and New Haven, Connecticut and Worchester, Massachusetts (July 17). By the end of August 1776, the Declaration had been reprinted in at least 29 newspapers and 14 broadsides.

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