On July 6, 1776, John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, sent a copy of the recently completed Declaration of Independence to George Washington. A portion of the very document printed by John Dunlap and taken to Washington in New York still exists. A larger view can be seen at the Library of Congress: George Washington’s copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Just look at the care and respect Washington afforded the document. It shows some wear, but think about the time – photo-grade plastic to seal the document did not exist. Plus, he was preparing for battle with the British. How did the document survive all of the strife he faced and still be legible over 230 years later?
George Washington and his militia were assembled in New York and waiting for the expected attack from the British. On July 9, 1776, Washington held an American Independence celebration in New York City and had the Declaration of Independence read to his troops. This is noted as the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Washington also sent copies of the document to his commanding officers and asked that they share the information with their men.
The letter below from Washington to General Artemis Ward on July 9, 1776 accompanied the Declaration. (Larger views of the letter’s pages can be found at the Library of Congress. Click on the “Page #” to go to their site.)
Many of Washington’s papers including his work with weather and his farm in addition to papers from the American Revolution and his time as President can be found at the Library of Congress in their George Washington Papers.
As the first President, he was honored with a golden dollar in 2007 as part of the Presidential Dollar series from the US Mint.
Yes, July 4th and its celebrations were last weekend. But, it took years and many sacrifices to achieve our independence.
President Washington and his golden dollar can help remind us that “Freedom is not Free.”