On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson completed the final draft of the Declaration of Independence and rushed it to the local print shop of John Dunlap in Philadelphia. Dunlap printed an estimated 200 copies of the document on large poster size sheets of paper called broadsides. These 200 Dunlap Broadside copies of the Declaration of Independence were immediately sent out across the colonies on horseback and read aloud. Two copies were also sent to King George to officially declare America as independent from England.

In 1989 a shopper was perusing a flea market when he came across a frame he admired, and purchased it for $4.00.  Later, while inspecting a tear in the back of the painting, he discovered a piece of paper wedged between the frame and the painting. He pulled it out and discovered what would soon be authenticated as the 25th remaining copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Independence

After being authenticated by the Getty Museum and changing hands a few times, it was up for auction by Sotheby’s. In 2000, Lyn and Norman Lear purchased this rare, original copy with the goal of bringing “the people’s document” directly to the American people.  Launched on July 4, 2001, the DOI Road Trip was founded to tour the nation’s birth certificate and a multimedia exhibit across the United States, to engage and energize all Americans, particularly young people, to participate in civic activism and to vote.

This document remains as the only touring copy of the Declaration of Independence.

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