Discovering the Sussex Declaration
Articles,  Blog

Discovering the Sussex Declaration


>>Welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater,
I am David Ferriero the Archivist of the United States and am very pleased you can join us for today’s
program about Discovering the Sussex Declaration. Whether you are here in the theater or watching
us on C‑SPAN we are glad that you could make it. Before we get started I want to tell
you about two other programs coming up this week and next tomorrow from 10:30 until noon
several authors illustrators will be here to talk about how they use research in their
writing join us in person or online. The morning session is one part of a two‑day festival
called the Write stuff. On Saturday July 8 we will hold family research literary day
with an opportunity to talk to authors. Next Wednesday July 12 at noon author Sidney Blumenthal will be here to discuss and sign his new book Wrestling with His Angel: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln. 1849-1856 This is Volume II of his acclaimed biography The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln reveals the future president’s genius as he found his voice and helped to
create a new political party. To learn about all of these and other events consult
the monthly calendar of events in print or on-line at archives.gov. Two days ago our nation celebrated Independence Day, the 241st anniversary of the day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and broke ties with Great Britain. Here at the National Archives we held a public
reading of the Declaration and celebrated the holiday with music speeches and patriotic activities. July 4 is our single busiest day for visitors to the National Archives Museum on that day
more than 5,000 people come to the rotunda to see the actual parchment document signed by delegates to the Continental Congress in 1776. Just so you know, today is the last day we have extended
our museum hours to 7 o’clock p.m. The parchment sheet on display upstairs, though much faded is the original official version of the Declaration of Independence. Many versions have been made since congress approved it most notably the Dunlap Broadside printed on paper the night of July 4, 1776 and several facsimiles made in
the early 1800’s. Today we will hear about a copy of the Declaration of Independence recently uncovered by our
two guests Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff. This parchment document the Sussex Declaration is the same size as
the original on display in the rotunda and dates from the mid 1780s. A notable feature of the Sussex Declaration is the arrangement of
the signatures they are not arranged by state delegation as they are on ours and early versions
and Danielle and Emily will give us their theories on what the new arrangement may mean.
Before we turn the stage over to them. I would like to acknowledge two people in the audience
who have perhaps the closest connections to the Declaration of Independence of anyone
living. Back in 2001 Marylyn Ritzenthaler and Kitty Nickelson who are here in the front wave your hands (indicating)., removed the Declaration from the case and gave it its first conservation treatment in
50 years. Marylyn was chief of conservation and Kitty was deputy chief of conservation. Their hands are the last to have touched the
historic document. It’s now my pleasure to introduce our two guest speakers this afternoon Danielle Allen is university professor and the director of the Edmund J. Saffer Center for Ethics at Harvard, she is a political theorist who has published broadly democratic theory political sociology and the history of political thought. Widely known
for her work on justice and citizenship she is the author of several books including Our
Declaration. 2001 MacArthur foundation fellow member of American Academy Arts and Sciences The American Philosophical Society and the Society of American Historians. She is also a contributing columnist for the Washington Post. Emily Sneff is research
manager of the Declaration Resources Project and the Center for American political studies
at Harvard University responsible for administration research and web content in pursuit of the
project’s mission to create innovative informative resources about the Declaration of Independence.
Her background is in content development and curation. Before joining the Declaration Resources
Project she was a member of the curatorial team at the American philosophical society
museum for two exhibitions on Thomas Jefferson. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Danielle
Allen and Emily Sneff. (APPLAUSE)
>>Thank you. Thank you for joining us during this week July 4th celebration as mentioned
the Declaration Resources Project our mission is create innovative informative resources
about the Declaration of Independence. This is included everything from mapping the dissemination
of the declaration in July and August 1776, to writing blog posts about the historical
accuracy of movies that include the Declaration. To developing a video game to encourage civic
engagement among middle and high school students. But our core scholarly project is the creation of a database of every known edition of the Declaration of Independence both print and manuscript produced 1776 and the 1820s. This database has over 500 different editions of the Declaration of Independence including 156 copies produced in the United States
alone from 1776 through 1800. It was in the course of this work that we uncovered the
document we will be discussing today. The Sussex declaration. This will be a brief overview
and I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about the Sussex declaration
or the declaration resources project visit our website. You can follow us on Twitter
at Declaration res. In August 2015 we came across this document through the online catalog
entry which read: Manuscript copies on parchment of the declaration in congress of the 13 United States.
After requesting an image Danielle and I were able to look at what we call the Sussex declaration
named for West Sussex England which you can see in context on this map in the south of
England. The document is housed at the West Sussex records office in Chichester. And it’s
worth noting this type of discovery is really only possible to the digitization of catalog
records. The holdings at the West Sussex records office are searchable through the UK National
Archives online catalog. The document was deposited at the West Sussex recordsv office in 1956
by Mr. Leslie Holden, who worked for the local solicitors office and dedicated to learning
about and preserving local history. Holden’s daughter gave us access to her father’s journals
they confirmed the following story relayed to us by a long time archivist at the records
office. In 1942 the solicitor’s firm decided to give a number of papers to the paper salvage program
in support of the war effort. Holden looked at the papers and was as he wrote: Completely
astounded by what he discovered a number of the papers and parchments were historically
significant and in his view worth saving with the permission of superiors he and other local
experts sifted through the papers setting aside anything important. The Sussex declaration
was most likely among the papers saved by Holden and 14 years later deposited at the
West Sussex office. The solicitor’s firm dates back to the 18th century they exist as SMR.
And they counted the Dukes of Richmond among their clients. A number of papers deposited
at the same time as the Sussex declaration also relate to the Dukes. The seat of the Dukes of Richmond is located just a few miles away from the West Sussex records office. As we will revisit
later Charles Lenox the third Duke of Richmond earns the nickname the radical Duke for his
support in parliament for the American colonies. I will briefly review the physical characteristics
of the document and Danielle Allen will discuss the probable circumstances of the production
and the answer to the question of how it got to the UK. 
The Sussex declaration is a parchment manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence. Both
of those terms are important. There are other printed copies on parchment and other manuscript
copies typically on letter‑size paper. The only other known parchment manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence is in this building. What we will refer to as the Matlack Declaration, inscribed by Tomothy Matlack and signed by 56 delegates. At 24 inches by 30 inches the Sussex declaration is the same
size as Matlack but oriented horizontally. The Sussex declaration is inscribed with the
full text of the Declaration of Independence and the same title as the Matlack Declaration. In Congress July 4, 1776, the unanimous declaration
of the 13 United States of America. The title is ornate but the rest of the document is in
a very legible round hand. This distinct from the italic hand that Matlock used. The right
margin of the text is roughly justified and careful planning must have gone into the production
of this document to ensure that the text would fit neatly and proportionally on the parchment
sheet. The names of the 56 signers are listed at the bottom. It’s important to note that
not everyone signed the Matlock declaration on August 2, 1776 Thomas McKeen may have signed
a few years later, the fact that all 56 signers are listed on the Sussex declaration is significant.
Let’s take a closer look. Within the body of the text certain words are emphasized cruelty
and perfidy in this example. You can see the back of the parchment you can tell it’s
folded in quarto for a time before its current octavo fold. Since this is a copy of the Declaration of Independence
we are in the National Archives, it’s important to say that there is nothing on the back.
(LAUGHTER)>>A portion of the parchment has been scraped
away to the right of the title a few other areas within the text have been scraped away
and rewritten. The parchment is in very good condition despite rodent damage along the
edges which you can see. There are pre industrial nail holes in the corner indicating it was
hung up at some point. The parallel lines around the edges and a few other features
we believe this document was made in the tradition of property deeds, and the credentials that
delegates would present upon arrival in congress. The Sussex declaration size legibility and
nail holes are evidence that this document was prepared for public not private purpose.
For display not merely reading. Using the material evidence we have dated the Sussex
declaration to the 1780s and believe it was produced by a clerk working in either New York
or Philadelphia. Now let’s take a closer look at the list of names which is the most remarkable
characteristic of the document. As you can see several names are misspelled in the sample
John Penn Richard Stockton and Witherspoon. These could be only achieved if the names were copied from signatures. They are abbreviated as in signatures. This means that the source text
for the Sussex declaration has to be the Matlack declaration or another copy that replicates
the signatures and such copies didn’t exist until the 19th Century. However, as you can
see the names are not in the same order as the Matlack declaration. John Hancock almost
always listed first in his role as president of the Continental Congress is listed 4th: on the Matlack declaration after Hancock, the names proceed
from right to left state order from north to south. Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire is at the top to the right and George Walton from Georgia is bottom to the left. The exception is Mathew Thornton, there was
no room left for him to sign with his colleagues from New Hampshire. It’s unusual to read
right to left and unusual for the congress to sign the document in this way. Previous
documents, including the Olive branch petition, included here had been signed in north to south order but from left to right. When Mary Catherine Goddard printed the first broadside
to include all of the names of the signers except McKeen in January 1777 she maintained
the state groupings but misinterpreted the north to south order. The state groupings
are visually identifiable on the Matlack Declaration and labeled in printings of the Declaration of
Independence including Goddard’s broadside and the journals of the continental congress.
But on the Sussex declaration, the state groupings have been completely done away with. After
trying to find a pattern or reason for the reordering of the names, we reached the conclusion
that the names were intentionally intermingled. Using the column order of the Matlack declaration names were picked from each column and a method that ensured the state groupings would be obscured. This type of scrambling makes sense in an era where ciphers and codes were popular tools. The clerk who inscribed the Sussex declaration used a combination of alternating columns and transposition
to produce the new list. Small clusters of names from the furthest to the right are intermingled
with individual names from the other columns. This clever method allowed for the intermingling
of names while transcribing from a list that use state groupings without losing track of
any individual names. Once we realized the name on the Sussex declaration were intermingled,
we had to ask the question why. The answer lies with whoever commissioned the parchment,
and Danielle will explore this in a moment first we wanted to mention a related document. 
Only one other known edition of the Declaration of Independence lists the names in the same order as Sussex. This miniature engraving by LH Bridgham in Boston in 1836. It is truly a miniature. As you can
see the text of the declaration fits within a 3‑inch square. The placement of some of
the names above and below the writing line provides evidence it was copied from the Sussex
declaration or a copy of it not the other way around. 
I will now hand things over to Danielle Allen to tackle the questions of who commissioned
the Sussex declaration, and how it might have gotten to the UK. 
>>Thank you Emily, and thank you all for joining us today. When Emily first identified
the document in the archive in West Sussex and secured the image she E‑mailed the image. My response was, holy
history Batman. We had an obvious mystery to solve. Emily walked you through the first
mystery the dating of the document the dating for the 1780s the second mystery was about
the names the intermingling as eradication of the conventional order by state groupings.
Let’s move on to the question of who commissioned the Sussex declaration and why. We had to
remember, as Emily just pointed out, in the 1780s the period this parchment dates to these
would have been the available texts if you wanted to see the declaration. They had been printed in newspapers in 1776. Those were ephemera, they belonged to the day and were not preserved commonly, you wouldn’t
have access to them. You would have had access to a broadside like Mary Catherine Goddard’s
broadside, one for each state at the state capitol or access of the records of continental
congress. And these two texts you will see have these state ordered groupings with the
state labels on them. Now, imagine if you had been a signer of the declaration this
is what you signed. Right? How would you think of the relationship between these printed
texts and what you have signed? A document in which in fact the state order had been
somewhat obscured with the right to left ordering without the use of state labels. James Wilson
was one signer of the declaration who had a definite view of what it meant when they
worked on the declaration. Born in Scotland moved to North America in 1766, lived mostly in Philadelphia. He was a property speculator but also a lawyer. As a politician he was instrumental alongside
Hamilton and others impounding the bank of Pennsylvania and North America. He signed both the Declaration and the the Constitution and was one of the first justices of the Supreme Court. At the constitutional convention he was recognized as being longside Madison, the most learned member. He was one of the most influential in terms
of the structure of the arguments in Philadelphia in that summer of 1787. Wilson had a view
of what that founding moment had been. When he was working on the question of how the
new country should pay for its war debt, he expressed this view as early as 1783, in congress
he was reported to have said he always considered this country with respect to the war as forming
one community. The states which by remoteness from congress was obliged to incur expenses
without previous sanctions ought to be on the same footing. He was entering into an
argument about how the war debts were to be divvied up among states. When they formed
one nation they should treat each other equally access all states. This was an important part of his argument not only thinking about war debt but thinking about the need for a national bank. As a part
of his efforts to build first the bank of Pennsylvania and north America. He asked congress
which moved to New York City 1785 for access to the records the archives. He spent the
summer of 1785 reviewing materials. We know he requested a set of journals from congress
from the year 1774 to 1785. He requested the records of the war years. Now, those records
are important because they are the ones that included the printed version of the declaration.
And the fact that James Wilson signer of the declaration a member of congress had to request
a set of journals is a good indication of how hard it was to come by the text of the original document. He requested other original documents in the summer as part of
the research. One of the most striking things about his research he came out of it with
a new and stronger argument about what the founding had amounted to. So, that fall in
a pamphlet defending the bank of North America he wrote the act of independence was made
before the articles of confederation. This act declares these united colonies not enumerating
them separately are free and independent states. They have full power to do all acts and things
which independent states may have the right to do. So, in other words, he is here invoking
the Declaration of Independence as having grounded a new government based on the united
colonies unitedly being free and independent. He puts in parentheses that in this original
act the colonies were not enumerated separately he wanted to underscore this. This argument
he makes consistently throughout the decade the new country was founded on single people
one community not on the basis of separate states.
He also as a part of the arguments on behalf of the bank connects the need of the bank
to the Declaration of Independence with the point of view of ceremonial display of the
declaration. In December of 1786 he imagines entering into the bank hall and wants to see dreams
of seeing at the upper end of the hall Bill of Rights the frame of government, not the articles, and the Declaration of Independence. In his dream when he wishes to see I could not but observe
that that part of the latter the declaration signed the abolition of our charters as a
reason for dissolving our connection with Great Britain was written in golden letters. This dream that Wilson has of seeing the declaration in golden letters hung in the Bank of North America is the only text in 1780s for a politician’s
desire to see the declaration treated ceremonially. It was still a legal text in this period Wilson
was the first indicating it should be celebrated ceremonially as a charter of freedom. He introduces
the arguments about the declaration in the constitutional convention. So, for example,
in June, if we mean to establish a national government the states must submit themselves
as individuals. The lawful government must be Supreme or the either the general or state
government must be Supreme. We must remember the language that we began the revolution, it was this, , Virginia is no more, Massachusetts
is no more, we are one in name, let us be one in truth and fact. And then a few weeks
later June 19 he reads the declaration in the convention to make exactly the same argument
that the country had been founded as a single nation. He continues to make this argument
in the following weeks put in his most pithy form, can we forget for whom we are forming a government, is it for men or the imaginary
beings called states. So, Wilson all the way through this period there are more quotations
where he invokes the declaration I am giving you a smattering them is the only founder
to be routinely invoking the declaration as a part of his domestic policy arguments he is the only one. The text was buried it was hard to get your hands on. Dunlap reprinted it 1786 for the 10th
anniversary of the revolution it was the first time it was reprinted in newspapers. Wilson
is developing an interpretation of the declaration as a part of his argument about what the new
constitution should pursue, right? Wilson is the person in other words who is making
a political argument that connects to this mode of presenting the declaration without
state by state groupings of the signatories. He’s picked up by South Carolina politicians who makes a similar argument in the ratification proceedings Wilson repeats the arguments in the Pennsylvania
ratification proceedings. He is the only person who from 1783 through the convention is making this
argument about the founding having been based on a single united people not on states. So,
when we were scouring the records of the 1780s all of the newspapers records all of the letters
and so forth, this was the one context that emerged where a politician expressed a purpose
and intentionality that aligns with the details that we see on the parchment for this reason
we propose James Wilson as commissioner of this parchment as a part of his efforts to
prepare materials for the constitutional convention. He like Madison was there early he lived in
Philadelphia and before the convention convened, they worked together to figure out how to
lay the foundation for the convention. One of the principles that they agreed on as Madison
wrote to Jefferson later reporting on events is that the country was founded on the basis
of a single people and they needed to ensure that worked its way through the convention.
So, Wilson is the most plausible candidate for the commissioner of the parchment. The next
mystery how does this get from Philadelphia to where it ended up in southern England?
There is a complexity here. And the complexity relates to the Bridgham miniature that Emily showed to you it was produced in 1836 that means either the Sussex declaration didn’t
move from the U.S. to the UK until after 1836 or there were multiple copies okay? If you
are a detective, and I see some possible young detectives in the audience here, all right,
this presents you with a significant problem because you have to explore two different
pathways, you have to look for possible transmission after 1836 and transmission before 1836 as
you begin to develop plausible hypothesis these you have to determine which is not proven.This is a massive amount of research which we are still working on. Today we will present to you some evidence for why we think it did move earlier 1780s
to 1790s, which means we think there are multiple copies of the text we are going to provide
evidence of that and some evidence for a plausible pathway for how it moved what we are doing
is presenting a hypothesis that is plausible not presenting a definitive account or smoking
gun account all right? Everybody clear on that part? Okay. So, as Emily mentioned, it
was deposited at the West Sussex records office, the deposit in which we found it has 78 items
in it those items date 1621 and 1910 for young detectives that is good you have end point
1910 couldn’t have gotten there later than then. That helps a lot. You also look at the
other documents in the deposit. What else is there? Indeed as Emily indicated the documents
come from clients of the solicitor’s firm. The most commonly ‑‑ the client that’s
represented the most strongly in the archives are the Dukes of Richmond 23 items belong to
them. But there is material from the bishop of Chichester and a couple of other families.
So, nonetheless based on the presence of the material there and the lack of connections
between the other clients and the Americans, we focused our research on the Dukes of Richmond.
Now, as for the Dukes here they are 3rd through 10th the third would have been Duke until
1750-1806 and the 10th Duke began in 1989. If you want to look then at whether the text moved
after 1836 or before it you have to focus on the fifth Duke in his role in 1819-1860
and the sixth Duke. The good news the family kept good records of their possessions since
1822. There is no record of any document of this kind having entered into their possession.
We also not have been able to find evidence having entered the firm after 1836 the solicitor’s
firm that might not say it won’t turn up it could still but we have no evidence of the
document moving into their possesion. They have good records since 1822. That pushes
us back to the earlier period the third Duke on the far left. What might possibly be the
link between the third Duke and James Wilson? The answer is Thomas Payne, right? That’s
now what we want to do is share a story of the connection between Wilson, Payne and the
Duke of Richmond. This is a set of links that haven’t been documented previously and it’s a window about how ideas about politics and the American revolution may have migrated across the ocean and among the U.S. Britain and France. So, Thomas Payne people don’t often remember he started his professional life as a tax collector, an excise officer in Louis in southern England 1768 to 1774, it’s from there
he came to the U.S. He came to the U.S. on the strength of a recommendation from Benjamin
Franklin connected in London to Benjamin Franklin by a man who worked in the British Treasury, George Scott. But he also in working in Louis worked under administration of the Duke of Richmond. The Duke of Richmond
was responsible for judicial activity in the county. Payne was an assiduous Jury man while there. The Duke was a patron of politics in Louis. This included being a patron of the races sponsored
horse racing in Louis. The people most interested in supporting the races were owners of the
White Heart tavern now hotel you can visit it and the neighboring coffee shop Barrels coffee shop
Both the owner of White Heart and Barrels were among Payne’s closest associates one was best man at his wedding and both participated in republican politics in the city of Louis. There was a newspaper publishing republican writings the Duke was developing ideas about constitutional reform in England. He would argue for universal male suffrage. He was participating in these political conversations ‑‑ our suggestion is that Richmond
may have been the patron who connected Thomas Payne to George Scott and Benjamin Franklin. The question of how how he got connected to the people is obscured nobody answered it in literature or seen the
role of Richmond in Louis previously. Our discussion is that Richmond was the patron
who connected Payne in that way. So, just to give you more of a sense of location what
you have got here on the map is in southern England the relationship between where the
parchment ended up in west Sussex and the White Heart hotel in Louis which again was
a hot bed of political activity they have a plaque up there that describes themselves
that way. And as a part of that political activity that
emerged from Sussex from southern England, the Duke in 1780 wrote a pamphlet called:
A letter to lieutenant colonel Sherman. He was in Ireland. The Irish were working on revolutionary activity
trying to throw off British authority they wrote to prominent reformers in England asking for their advice, the Duke laid out his view there should be universal male suffrage the British parliament should be
reformed to achieve egalitarian representation throughout the country. These were political views that were antithetical to what King George the Third wanted. Richmond was in opposition as he developed
these views he was the peer in the House of Lords, the first to argue British should accept
American independence and acknowledge the new nation. As Emily said for that reason
he earned the nickname radical Duke, he was the supporter of the Americans. The Americans would recognize this. They would
celebrate his name being a leading British statesmen to defend the American cause. In
addition to writing the pamphlet, he supported other dissenters, reformers and radicals.
We know from examples this letter a man wrote a letter in 1781, he describes earlier support
from Richmond and complains about it having been cut off. He writes to John Adams, honorable
sir, I have supported of the cause at America from the first devoted my property time and
strength to the colonies at the time they were most in danger I stand forth to this hour almost alone to defend my principles with their conduct. I am turned of 64 with many great infirmities I am now reduced to half my pay. Since the
loss of my excellent friend and cruel desertion of me by the Duke of Richmond who for some years gave me
a small assistance unworthy of his great dignity and fortune and his written acknowledgments of my talents and services to the
cause of freedom. What is the cruel dissertion he is talking about? Richmond had been involved
in radical politics and then in 1783 he had a chance to enter government to join the parliament
pits parliament and work on behalf of the king. He took that opportunity and he repudiated
his former politics and former political acquaintances as part of the opportunity he wrote an abject
letter of apology to the king not having been present in the court for the previous decade, extraordinary moment where he
reoriented his politics. Radicals felt cruelly deserted. The point of the story about Richmond is to indicate he was moving in similar circles to Payne supported radicals but moved away from that
this brings us to 1783 and 1786 before the convention. Payne is in Philadelphia with Wilson in 1787 both working on behalf of the bank of North America succeed in getting the charter reinstated, with Franklin they founded a Society called the Society for Political Inquiries to prepare for the convention. In April Payne
sails back to the United Kingdom. He is in Europe subsequently through the French revolution
and leaves Paris in 1792. In 1789 two years after Payne had gotten back to England there
are two significant political events regency crisis in England when King George the III,
has a bought of madness, right? And this provoked British politician to explore the possibility
of transitioning the government to the prince of Wales, some of them while exploring this
also begin to consider the reform of the political institutions again. Just as this is happening
things are moving in France towards revolution the regency crisis is January 1789 then by the summer we have the fall of the Bastille and revolution in France. The reformers from the early 1780s
begin to become active again. They think it’s their moment to drive change in English politics. One of the foremost advocates for change in politics was a politician names Charles Fox who was the nephew of the
Duke of Richmond they were politically estranged but nontheless part of the same family. During
this period, some of the reformers who had worked with Richmond a decade earlier tried to recruit
him back into their project back into their work. There was something called the Society
for constitutional information and in 1792 they reprint his earlier reform pamphlets.
Also, in 1792, Thomas Payne publishes one of his most radical books, Rights of Man Parts the Second. This is a book he defends the French revolution against Edmund Burke, he
blasts the Duke of Richmond in footnotes. The Duke of Richmond he says takes away as
much for himself as maintain 2000 for an aged person he is referring to the duties the Duke
gets just by virtue of being aristocrat, the rights with lands and possessions. He calls
him a member of a band of parasites. He insults Richmond in this way never done previously in any of
his writings there is clear personal animus that resonated with the words he has to step
back and say staring this case, I am led by no personal dislike. though I think it mean of any man to live upon the public , the vice originates in the government and so general it has become whether the parties are in ministry or the opposition it makes no difference they are
a sure guarantee of each other. So, he is making the case that he is ready to condemn
the aristocracy generally the ways they take advantage of ordinary people in England yet
he has had the chance to make these condemnations of Richmond for two decades he hasn’t done
it. Why now? Our suggestion is, again, we wish we could give you everything but a brief
picture here our suggestion is Payne collaborating with the reformers in the early 1790s worked
with them to recruit Richmond back into the project of reform. This might have been a
moment when he would have shared something like the Declaration of Independence, this
parchment document with the Duke of Richmond. The controversy reached its highest pitch
July 4 as it happens 1792. When Payne now repudiated Richmond on the pages of his book that
spring all throughout the land people are condemning Payne the king passed a proclamation
against sedition. People are burning him in effigy all over the country. Townsmen are
gathering to deliberate and decide whether to support the king and proclamation against
sedition or support Payne. The Duke of Richmond is chairing the meeting in advance of the
meeting Payne writes to the towns men of Louis asking for support, he writes upwards of 18
years, I was a resident in the town of Louis, my situation among you as officer of the revenue
more than six years enabled me to see in the numerous various distresses the way the taxes
that time of day occasioned. Feeling I did and is natural for me to do it’s with pleasure
I can declare every person then under my survey and now living can witness the exceeding candor and even tenderness which that part of the duty that fell to my share was executed. In other words, he reminds the towns people what a good job he has done as
tax collector. To defend himself, where the townspeople might repudiate him? What happens?
There are newspaper reports about that meeting and all we know from a little fragment is
that the letter provoked reactions of disgust such that the very idea of the letter it was
torn up and thrown unread on the table at the meeting. The townspeople under Richmond’s
chairmanship voted against Payne in support of the king’s proclamation. Richmond ‑‑
Payne repudiated Richmond on the page in his book and Richmond and the townspeople repudiated him in this meeting. The fight, the explosion in the relationship between the two of them they
are still associated in the public mind. So, for example, there is abolitionist, William
Fox who said this about them: The progress of Jacobin-ism French revolutionary ideas is amply secure without the aid of the Duke of Richmond or Thomas Payne inciting the body of the people to assume government ‑‑ and Fox offers a counter-factual – during the regency crisis Payne argued England should have a constitutional convention
like the American one. Fox said So this is Richmond and Payne ransacking all of the gin shops to form a
national convention isn’t even a necessary thing. Okay? So the point is simply that: There is some
connection between Richmond and Payne they were perceived as political allies, and then
they repudiated one another. It’s in the relationship there may have been movement of parchment
from Wilson in Philadelphia through Payne to Richmond. I want to provide few details to flesh out this picture. So,
Payne was in the business of circulating letters and objects among revolutionaries, for example,
La Fayette wanted to give the key to the Bastille to George Washington he used Thomas Payne as
courier to get the key to Washington. We have examples of letters from Payne handed over
they passed through London and got them to the relevant people in Paris. He was in the
middle of the network connecting things between three locations where politics were active
and complicated. As I said, there is a connection between Richmond and Payne through the politics
of Louis which hasn’t been spotted previously. We haven’t been able to find equivalently dense connection of Richmond to any other one of the American political figures who is also working with
Wilson. We have tested this hypothesis with scholars and scholars concur it’s plausible,
as I said to start there are also other pathways. For example, Payne lived for a time in 1792
Paris with Richmond’s nephew Edward Fitzgerald, an Irish revolutionary, Payne could have given
him the document and it ended up in the papers through the nephew. Other radicals went back
and forth between Philadelphia and United Kingdom we might think of people who might
have transferred this document. There is a lot more research to do for this story between
Payne Richmond is one that come to light because we found this parchment declaration and trying
to figure out how on earth it had gotten from Philadelphia to the United Kingdom. In closing,
I just want to say, thank you again, to David Ferriero, archivist, we are so grateful for
the invitation and Mary Lynn and Kitty for all of the work you have done with the parchment
here at residence in the National Archives and the help you have give develop us on this
project. It’s a pleasure to be able to share this work with all of you we look forward
to answering your questions about it. Thank you.
(APPLAUSE)>>If you have questions go to the microphone in the aisles, please.>>Thank you for a fascinating presentation, what impact do you think this declaration
had?>>Thank you. So, I think it’s very straightforward
in the sense the role it played in the constitutional convention in the ratification. So, in some sense
you can reverse engineer the answer to the question. You look at the architecture of
our institutions, and the senate reflects the view that this country was founded on
the basis of a single people. And the house reflects the view it was founded on the basis
of the federation or treaty among different states where you have proportional ‑‑
reverse that. The senate reflects it’s founded on the basis of treaties many among equal
states the house represents the view it was based on the single people that needed to
be proportionally represented. That of course was the fundamental debate in the convention.
The fact that the proportional representation view got as far as it did and gained traction
was because of the arguments he was making. Being endorsed by Hamilton Madison Wilson
and Hamilton coming and backing up Madison. This document I think supported that view
and hence it’s significant. I hope that answered your question.
>>Thank you Danielle and Emily. Do you know if the 10th Duke of Richmond is Lord Earl
March>>He is the son of the 10th Duke of Richmond
and it has been the case now for a few generations that the Earl of March, who is the heir, takes
over the family business as you can see his father at this point is quite elderly that’s
an old photo the Earl runs the family business>>I was there in Chichester last September
at the speed revival of car racing horse racing it must trace back to what you said.
>>Nope it is. The family founded cricket in the UK, which is another extraordinary
thing. And they built up a huge horse racing network in southern England the third Duke
built stalls in 1792 in Louis and built tracks at good wood in the early 19th Century the
biggest and best and moved on from that to car racing it goes all the way back to the
American revolution.>> Thank you.
>>In today’s equivalent, a text and tweet E‑mail or wire, what is the document that
got to Europe after the Declaration of Independence materialized in North America? Is it in the
newspaper or was it something that there is a record of something that somebody picked
up and King George III or somebody else screened or somebody was upset about was there any
record of that?>>There is lots to say do you want to take
the first.>> That is still a question to be definitively
answered, to be honest that’s what I was looking for when we found this. I was looking for
that document. So, you UK National Archives have Dunlap Broadsides that traveled across
on ships, basically the Broadside got on a ship and over to England by about the second
week of August. So, it’s my belief, but still to be proven, a Dunlap Broadside was the first
document to reach England. The idea of the parchment, you know, John Hancock signing
his name big enough for King George to read it, that makes no sense. King George wouldn’t
have seen it unless things went poorly. It was Broadside and picked up in the English
newspapers so the English people would see it. We believe Broadside this document a decade
later.>>There is a funny feature of the English
reception, there is one change in the text in the English text which I am not going to
remember now exactly. It’s in, I think, the fourth clause, second sentence, which reads,
whenever any government becomes obstructive of these ends the British changed the start
of the clause we can’t find the source text that generated that text in the text. The
British newspaper versions have the alternative there, there is another text out there we
haven’t found.>>There are anomalies that pop up, only in
the British edition some are censored, of course. These documents creating the differences
are out there.>>I want to follow up on Broadsides or the
newspaper, are there records of commentary or was it just reported in the newspaper as
a fact when those newspapers were printed.>> Definitely ‑‑ the king had a lawyer
who would have worked for him, John Lynch who wrote sort of 110‑page approximately
repudiation of the declaration point by point refutation of all of the grievances. There
is one very funny farcical rendering from that after it arrived, which is more or less
a litany of complaints about Americans that turns everything inside out. It got a lot
of traffic, it got a lot of attention. In state papers there are handwritten copies,
so for example the equivalent to the foreign secretary there are harn copies of it in his
papers somebody had to copy from something in order for him to get the text at a very
early point. So, multiple points of reception.>> We mention there are other manuscripts
typically on letter side two of those are in Lord germane’s paper the Secretary of State
there is another one in the parliamentary archives from 1778 probably copied from a
Dunlap Broadside or other document.>> They were distributing to, you know, all
of the major European governments, so my hunch is that if you visited sort of Austrian archives
and Russian archives there are probably more early copies to be found we don’t know about
because nobody had a chance to look for them in the ‑‑ every European capitol should
have a significant early copy, which we should go back and forth, two sides
>>Perhaps a juvenile question, any relationship between the family and Richmond in United States
in Virginia?>> That’s a good question, I haven’t actually
checked that.>>I have not. Thank you for the idea.
>> Well, colonialism at the time, if there was a large presence of the family here that
could exacerbate ‑‑>>The Richmond family did not have a presence.
I can’t explain the name. There are other things, Richmond battleships and other parts
of England named Richmond not related to the family. We should check about Richmond, Virginia.
But so the Richmond family had a strong interest in America planted thousands of American plants
on their estate for example. And his ‑‑ the third and second Duke also shared that
interest. But neither of them ever traveled to America the fourth Duke did have an appointment
British appointment as in Canada as governor or I can’t remember the role may have been
a mill tear appointment he died in Canada having been bitten by a rabid animal. You
might think he did shall did shall he was there ‑‑ there is a good record of what
became of his papers there is no indication of a document of this kind.
>>Was there horticultural overlap ‑‑>>Horticultural overlap.
>>He was cultivating old strains ‑‑>> The horticultural connection connected
Richmond to Franklin in the first instance there is less evidence of any Jefferson‑Richmond
connection. There is a lot of Franklin Richmond. Peter Collingson who was the horticulturist ‑‑
horticulturist, there is a connection there as well.
>> Thanks.>> Very interesting presentation. You bring
up so many other questions in the presentation that you have done. One question is: Were
there any other documents to show that the Wilson document was actually a misrepresentation
of the original Declaration of Independence by changing the order of the signatures? And
then I will ask a second question which is very simplistic it’s a nagging question I
have had that is: We sign theed Declaration of Independence I think it was signed various
times but the official date was July 4, 1776. Was it important ‑‑ how did we communicate
this to England that we were declaring independence? And when was that officially done and when
did England acknowledge that we were free? And the follow‑up to that is would it have
been possible to have signed a Declaration of Independence without having a war? Is there
any language in the declaration that would have found the possibility of us being independent
without having to fight a war?>>So, let’s start with the second question
first. So, Britain did not acknowledge the independence of the U.S. until 1783 in the
Treaty of Paris. To put it in the most blunt terms. Though beginning in the late 1770s,
the Duke of Richmond and others began arguing that they ‑‑ Britain should acknowledge
the independence of the colonies. So, there was no route that would have avoided war.
King George and his prime minister were committed to holding on to their colonies. And despite
dissent internally. They had very strong view on that point. So, I think there wasn’t really
an alternative. With regard to the issue of the document being misrepresentation, come
back to this, I think the hard thing about that is, these texts were misrepresentations.
That’s the problem. So, these texts were misrepresentations because they reapplied the state labels. And
reinforced the notion of those groupings which were obscured on the Matlock, right? Between
those two things. There is a slippage there. So, when we get to this version, where did
it go. Not very big, sorry. I have to go back the other way. Yes, it’s true that it is also
moving away from the original but, you know, to the same degree as those printed versions.
So, they are all misrepresentations in some sense of the original. And I think the important
point for me is Wilson was, as I see it, if our hypothesis of the commissioning is correct.
Was trying to convey when he himself believed he had done as a signer. In other words, he
was represented when his signing had been. The language of Virginia is no more and Massachusetts
is no more and so forth. It’s a misrepresentation if you think it’s a copy of Matlock but not
misrepresentation if you think of it as Wilson’s conveying of his understanding of what he
had done.>> Dr. Allen you are the daughter of the
most brilliant man I know. (LAUGHTER)
>>I am glad to be able to be in the room with you today. But I wanted to ask a little
bit about you. So, you are a political theorist this seems and feels like a history project
can you just talk about how you ended up being involved in this project in the first place
and what it means in terms of your ‑‑ in the context of your broader work?
>>Thank you for your question. So, with regard to the technical matter of my academic training
I am both historian and political philosopher. I have a Ph.D. in classics which is a Ph.D.
in ancient history and Ph.D. in political science and political philosophy. Half of
my academic training is nitty‑gritty archival paleographical historical research. My training
applies to antiquities ancient Greece and Rome as opposed to the Early American republic
but it’s the same set of skills. How did I get into this specific archival project and
have the good fortune to bring Emily into it as well with his remarkable skills. Basically,
I taught the Declaration of Independence as a part of a general course in American history
for some night students I became increasingly committed to its value philosophic value and
began writing a book about it in the process of writing the book I discovered, my favorite
National Archives theme that the transcription of the Declaration of Independence at the
National Archives website seemed to me to have an error in it, it was a point of great
dispute between myself and the archives the second sentence of the declaration as written
by Jefferson copied by Adams as follows: We hold these truths to be self‑evident all
men are created equal they are endowed by the creator with certain unalienable rights
among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness to secure these rights governments
are (inaudible) just powers to the sense of the governed when any form of government becomes
destructive of these ends it’s the right of people to alter or abolish it laying foundation
on such principles and organizing its power in such form to them shall seem most likely
to effect their safety and happiness. That’s the whole second sentence of the declaration
of the independence. Five class clauses following the self‑evident truths they think it stops
at the pursuit of happiness. The reason people think that is because in that moment July
2 to July 4 when the declaration was being voted on and endorsed, congress had Dunlap
print it in a Broadside form to go to troops and foreign governments. And Dunlap was going
to put it in the newspaper the newspaper was coming out for a few days there was Benjamin
town in Philadelphia made his living scooping everybody else he got his unofficially into
the newspaper the is awfully song he stuck a period after the pursuit of happiness. There
was two circulating one with a period and one without it. I began to realize this was
the reason the National Archives transcription had gotten a period in it we can continue
to debate whether it’s accurate or not. That the original source of the period is on the
website. Why does it matter? It matters because that second sentence about self‑evident
truth is this incredible statements about a theory of revolution the right of revolution
part of the history of political thought but also the basis of legitimate government securing
rights and the right of the people to make judgements about the quality of their government
to adopt it adapt it if necessary. The whole sentence goes from that state that claim about
our individual rights to the state about our collectively working through the tool of government
to secure our safety and happiness together. That is a hugely important argument within
the history of political thought political philosophy ‑‑ philosophy not archival
project I wanted to understand the ideas in the sentence and wanted to understand why
it was some Americans don’t see the whole sentence only half of it the part about individual
rights they lose the parted about our working together through the tool of government to
secure our rights. And because I wanted to understand where it come from that led me
into the archival rabbit hole. I wanted to see the diversity of the declaration and so
I had the idea of trying to develop a database project to collect every version of the Declaration
of Independence that was produced between 1776 and 1830 I imagined to talk Emily into
joining me in that project, and Emily has remarkable skills as researcher historian
meticulous with regard to detail. Between the two of us we had the historical tools
knowledge et cetera to pursue this archival project. The truth of the matter is if you
love a good mystery it’s pretty hard to walk away from exciting archival projects each
if you love political philosophy. It’s hard to walk away from a good mystery. That was
a long‑winded answer to your question, thank you for it.
>>Thank you (LAUGHTER)
>>Really appreciate your time.

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