Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence
Only seven manuscript versions of the Declaration of Independence are known to survive in the hand of Thomas Jefferson, its principal author. Jefferson made this copy for a friend shortly after the July 4th, 1776, ratification of the Declaration, which announced to the world the American colonies’ political separation from Great Britain.
The text recorded in this copy very nearly mirrors what was presented to the Second Continental Congress for review; underlinings show original text that was later modified by the Congress before finalizing the document. Among the rejected passages, present here: a passionate condemnation of African chattel slavery and the slave trade, the perpetuation of which Jefferson blames on King George III. Jefferson’s antislavery sentiments were not insincere, but how he could hold them, as an enslaver himself, remains a conundrum.
Currently on View at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
No copyright: United States