Monday, February 04, 2008

"Quinzy" Copies the Declaration

Here’s a fun little article that I missed: a rare 1824 copy of the Declaration of Independence was recently found behind a filing cabinet at the Supreme Court. (The quotes below are from an article in a legal newspaper, which I couldn't find online, not the linked article.)

What makes the article nice is that it involves our old friend, John Quincy Adams. In 1820, "Quinzy", who was then serving as Secretary of State to President James Monroe, became concerned about the condition of the original 1776 Declaration, which “had been furled and unfurled, and was already beginning to fade.” Adams therefore “hired a D.C. engraver named William Stone to execute a small number of copies to be sent to the states, to members of Congress and to the Supreme Court.” Elsewhere, the article indicates that 200 copies were made.

The “wet-transfer method” that Stone used “damaged the original further by drawing some of its ink away to make a copy.” However, the resulting vellum copies, completed and distributed in 1824, “are as close to the original declaration as you can possibly get,” according to one dealer. “They give you goose bumps when you see them.”

The restored and reframed copy now hangs “near a ground-floor elevator [in the Supreme Court building] where it can be viewed by visitors to the Court.”

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