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Historical Background

Biographical Sketches

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

Text and History of Declaration

Suggested Reading

Signers of the Declaration

This volume incorporates a comprehensive survey of sites and buildings associated with the signers accomplished by Charles W. Snell and the late John O. Littleton. Also utilized were Survey and evaluation reports authored by the following individuals: S. Sydney Bradford, Charles E. Hatch, Jr., W. Brown Morton III, Denys Peter Myers, John D. R. Platt, Frank B. Sarles, Jr., Charles E. Shedd, Jr., Horace J. Sheely, Jr., and Martin I. Yoelson. These surveys and reports were reviewed by the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments. Members of this group are listed in the Acknowledgments. Directly involved in all aspects of the preparation of this book were Assistant Editor Richard E. Morris and Editorial Assistant James H. Charleton. It was designed by Gary Gore.


Portions of the 1973 document have been omitted and only minor revisions have been made to the original text, however the reader should note that some of the information contained herein may not reflect current conditions. Current color photos of historic sites are courtesy of current property owners who are the caretakers of National Historic Landmark properties that are in private ownership. Additional historical site and biographical information can be obtained by visiting

National Archives The Declaration of Independence

Information Regarding Published Edition


Ernest A. Connally

Robert M. Utley, Director

A. Russell Mortensen, Chief

Horace J. Sheely, Jr., Chief

Original Foreword to Published Edition

As the Nation's principal conservation agency, the Department of the Interior has basic responsibilities for water, fish, wildlife, mineral, land, park, and recreational resources. Indian and Territorial affairs are other major concerns of America's "Department of Natural Resources." The Department works to assure the wisest choice in managing all our resources so each will make its full contribution to a better United States—now and in the future.

As we approach the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, each of us is stirred by the memory of those who framed the future of our country.

In the coming years we will have many opportunities to refresh our understanding of what America means, but none can mean more than personal visits to the sites where freedom was forged and our founding fathers actually made the decisions which have stood the severest tests of time.

I remember my reactions, for example, when I visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1972 to sign the new revenue sharing legislation. Walking into the building where that small group of patriots gathered some two centuries ago, I thought back to what it must have been like when the giants of our American heritage solemnly committed themselves and their children to liberty. The dilemmas they faced, the uncertainties they felt, the ideals they cherished—all seemed more alive to me than ever before, and I came away with an even stronger appreciation for their courage and their vision.

As people from all over the world visit the places described in this valuable book, they, too, will feel the excitement of history and relive in their minds the beginnings of a great Nation.

I commend this book to your attention and encourage all people, Americans and foreigners alike, to make a special effort to visit our historic sites during these Bicentennial years.

The White House
Washington, D.C.


Original Preface to Published Edition

Nearly two hundred years have passed since America proclaimed her independence. Yet this action and the beliefs and hopes motivating those responsible for it are as central to us as a people today as they were to Abraham Lincoln, whose words still remind us that ". .. our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.. . ."

To understand what we have become, we must know what we have been. This volume illuminates the role of those who framed the Declaration of Independence and took the bold risk of putting their signatures to it, thus bringing into being a new Nation on a new model of stated principle. It will stimulate our visual memory of the persons and events that cast this Nation upon its course, and I commend it to to all who would more fully appreciate that heritage.

Secretary of the Interior

It is my hope that this volume will not only increase popular knowledge of the Declaration of Independence and its signers, but that it will also undergird the efforts of historic preservationists to protect sites and buildings associated with them. Written records alone cannot convey the appreciation and understanding that come from personal acquaintance with historic places. Thus, while we preserve and study the documents of the American Revolution, we must also save and experience what physical evidences remain to illustrate the lives of those who so boldly brought it about. With the assistance of this book, many more Americans may come to know the sites and structures frequented by the signers of the Declaration, to visit them personally, and to appreciate more deeply the importance of their preservation.

Credit for the preparation of this volume is shared widely by persons both in and out of the National Park Service. The historic preservation activities of the Service have particularly benefited from the assistance of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States, cosponsor of the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings. The Survey is authorized by the Historic Sites Act of 1935.

National Park Service


Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments (1971)

Durward L. Allen, Purdue University.
Hon. E. Y. Berry, Rapid City, S. Dak.
Anthony A. Buford, Clayton, Mo.
Loren C. Eiseley, University of Pennsylvania
Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Stonewall, Tex.
Peter C. Murphy, Jr., Springfield, Oreg.
Nathaniel A. Owings, San Francisco, Calif.
Melvin M. Payne, National Geographic Society.
Linden C. Pettys, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Steven Rose, Arcadia, Calif.
William G. Shade, Lehigh University.
Elisha Walker, Jr., New York, N.Y.
James W. Whittaker, Seattle, Wash.

National Park Service

Edwin C. Bearss, Historian, Historic Preservation Project (East), Denver Service Center.
S. Sydney Bradford, Chief, Plans and Grants, National Register of Historic Places.
George S. Cattanach, Jr., Program Coordinator, National Register of Historic Places.
Henry A. Judd, Chief, Park Historic Architecture, Division of Historic Architecture.
Herbert E. Kahler, Chief (retired), Division of History and Archeology.
Ronald F. Lee, Special Assistant to the Director.
John Luzader, Historian, Historic Preservation Project (East), Denver Service Center.
Warren A. McCullough, Management Assistant, Independence National Historical Park, Pa.
John D. McDermott, Assistant Executive Secretary, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Thomas W. Mullen, Student Research Assistant (Northeastern Univer sity), Division of History.
Denys Peter Myers, Architectural Historian, Division of History.
John D. R. Platt, Historian, Independence National Historical Park, Pa.
Charles W. Porter III, Chief Historian (retired), Division of History.
Charles W. Snell, Historian, Division of History.
Martin I. Yoelson, Supervisory Interpretive Specialist, Independence National Historical Park, Pa.

Other Individuals

Roland A. Block, Regional Director, Taconic State Park Commission, Staatsburg, N.Y.
Jerry M. Bloomer, Secretary-Registrar, R. W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport.
Edwin Cox, President, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.
Alonzo T. Dill, West Point, Va.
Educational Programs Staff, National Archives and Records Service, U.S. General Services Administration.
Ms. Constance M. Greiff, Vice President, Historical Society of Princeton, N.J.
Ms. Virginia Gunter, Curator, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord.
Edgar R. Lafferty, Jr., Elsing Green, King William, Va.
Charles H. McCormick, Assistant Professor of History, Fairmont State College, Fairmont, W.Va.
Ms. Mildred Steinbach, Librarian, Frick Art Reference Library, New York.
E. Berkeley Tompkins, Director, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Department of State, State of Delaware, Dover.

Art and Picture Credits

The National Park Service gratefully acknowledges the assistance of agencies and individuals furnishing illustrations and granting permission to reproduce them. Where available, names of photographers and dates of photographs are indicated in parentheses following credits.

Last Updated: 04-Jul-2004