Sunday, July 4, 2021

American Calligraphy #25: The Declaration of Independence

 ABCs of the USA: The stories behind America’s most distinctive calligraphy styles. 

Because the text refers to the
colonies as the "united States
of America," I have used a
small u above rather than
making a capital U

When the drafters of this document met in Philadelphia to declare their independence from England's King George III, they commissioned fellow delegate Timothy Matlack (1736-1829) to pen the final copy because he had the best handwriting. 

The Declaration was read aloud the next day, but the 200 typeset and printed copies, printed immediately and distributed to the other colonies, were what really spread the word. Some 26 of the first printing still survive. The second printing was typeset by Baltimore postmaster Mary Katharine GoddardA later version was distributed in German, still the first language of many immigrants. The delegates' signatures were gradually added to the original document over the next month, and completed on Aug 2. (See my blog post #4about John Hancock, from January 26, 2021.) 

The handwritten, signed Declaration of Independence is preserved in the National Archives Museum in Washington DC.  

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