Before distracting yourself with BBQ and fireworks, take 20 minutes to brush up on your July 4th knowledge. Reading the Declaration of Independence this morning may even make for good conversation over a few beers tonight! I’ve always had an interest in manuscript history. The Declaration of Independence is literally America’s most celebrated manuscript, and any historian will tell you that primary documents are gold. The Los Angeles Times gets right to the point and reminds us that responsible citizens should read the document yearly. They provide us with the “engrossed copy” text of The Declaration of Independence of these United Statef of America after a short, inspiring introduction. Wikisource is also an invaluable site for reading the various editions of the document, such as the Dunlap Broadside (earliest printing). Imagine the kind of confidence it requires to propose to a king “that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….”
Peggy Noonan pays tribute to David McCullough, “America’s greatest living historian,” in yesterday’s WSJ opinion piece, Making History. In it, she uses passages from McCullough’s books to recreate the excitement of independence week in July 1776. Part 2 of HBO’s incredible John Adams series also reenacts this moment in history. For more details about The Declaration, see the Wikipedia article and the National Archives Charters of Freedom page.