4to in half-sheets (9 3/4 x 8 in.; 246 x 202 mm). The Declaration issue bound in a full year's run of the Evening Post, Vol. II, Num. 148 (2 January 1776) to Vol. II, Num. 295 (28 December 1776), issues for 4 July and 6 July printed on blue paper, also bound in, chronologically with the newspapers, are 20 handbills and small broadsides issued by the Philadelphia Council of Safety, the Pennsylvania Assembly, and the Continental Army, several of which are evidently unrecorded, as well as a "Postscript to the Pennsylvania Journal, August 28, 1776" (about 4 additional fragmentary handbills are also present); lacking Nums. 149, 186, 195, 200, 203, 215, and 293, first page of first issue and last page of final issue loose and severely frayed with loss, scattered foxing and staining, occasional browning, scattered marginal tears, a very few pages shaved, a few of the broadsides and handbills with some minor marginal fraying, tears, and loss, a few broadsides and handbills with imprints cropped or shaved. Contemporary calf; very worn, covers detached, spine split and worn, shaken, with a number of issues loose.
The Declaration of Independence was at once the most critical and the most widely and rapidly disseminated piece of news in the history of the American colonies. Within a month of Dunlap's broadside printing, a dozen regional broadside editions were printed, all of the greatest rarity, as far north as Salem, Massachusetts, and Exeter, New Hampshire, and as far south as Charleston, South Carolina. It is likely, however, that even more Americans read the words of the Declaration in one of the many newspaper printings, of which Clarence Brigham identified thirty in the month of July 1776, produced in eighteen cities and towns ranging from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Williamsburg, Virginia.
The earliest of these newspaper printings was that in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, a thrice-weekly journal established by Benjamin Towne on 24 January 1775. This preceded by two days the appearance of the Declaration in John Dunlap's own Pennsylvania Packet, and by three days the German translation in the Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote. The Evening Post also preceded by two days the first appearance of the Declaration in a printed book: its inclusion in the final sheet of The Genuine Principles of the Ancient Saxon, or English Constitution by "Demophilus" (Allan Ramsay the Younger), which was published in Philadelphia by Robert Bell on Monday, 8 July. Benjamin Towne's newspaper printing almost certainly appeared before the second broadside edition of the Declaration as well: a German-language version printed by Charles Cist and Melchior Steiner that was probably completed between July 6th and 8th.
Preserved as it is in a year's run of the Pennsylvania Evening Post, this copy of the Declaration is placed as would have been in 1776: within the context of contemporary reports of, and commentary on, the growing sentiment for American independence. For instance, on Tuesday, 2 July, the Evening Post had announced, "This day the Continental Congress declared the United States Free and Independent States"; and the issue before that one, Saturday, 29 June, carried an editorial by "Republicus," stating "as we cannot offer terms of peace to Great-Britain, until, as other nations have done before us, we agree to call ourselves by some name, I shall rejoice to hear the title of the United States of America, in order that we may be on a proper footing to negociate a peace."
The consequences of the revolution ignited by the adoption of the Declaration of Independence are also revealed in the subsequent issues of the Evening Post in the volume. Even more significantly, the original owner of this volume had bound in, chronologically with the papers, an important group of handbills and small broadsides issued by the Philadelphia Council of Safety, the Pennsylvania Assembly, and the Continental Army. The Council of Safety publications comprise: "We have certain Intelligence that the Enemy has actually sailed from New York Five Hundred Ships for this City …," 14 November 1776, printed by John Dunlap (Evans 15021) — "The Fleet which sailed from New-York and took its course to the Southward with the appearance of a design to enter this River … are gone to the Eastward …," 16 November 1776 (Bristol B4331) — "Resolved, That it is in the Opinion of this Board, that all the Shops in this City be shut up, that the Schools be broke up, and the Inhabitants engaged solely in providing for the Defence of this City …," 2 December 1776, printed by Henry Miller (Evans 15023) — "The army under General Howe has taken possession of Brunswick—General Washington, not having a sufficient number of men to oppose the enemy, is obliged to retreat before them … There is no time for words—Exert yourselves NOW like FREEMEN," 2 December 1776, no imprint (evidently unrecorded) — "Resolved, That such of the Inhabitants of the several Wards in this City and the Districts, as are not fit to march into the Field, do form themselves into Companies, in order to guard the Powder Magazine and Fire Rafts …," 2 December 1776, printed by Hall and Sellers (evidently unrecorded) — "The Council being informed that some Waggons have lately been impressed into public service by mistake, do hereby assure the public that it is not their intention to impress any, except in cases of the utmost necessity …," 3 December 1776, printed by John Dunlap (evidently unrecorded) — "The Council having found it necessary to call the attention of the good people of this city to measures for its immediate defence, ordered that the shops should be shut up, &c. …," 4 December 1776, printed by John Dunlap (evidently unrecorded) — "Whereas the safety and security of every state depends on the virtuous exertions of individuals in its defence; … Resolved, That no excuse ought to be admitted or deemed sufficient against marching with the Militia at this time, except sickness, infirmity of body, age, religious scruples, or an absolute order from the authority of this state …," 7 December 1776, printed by John Dunlap; imprint cropped (Bristol B4333) — "You are earnestly requested to procure as many Waggons to assist in removing the women and children from this city as possible …," 8 December 1776, [printed by John Dunlap] (evidently unrecorded) — "There is certain intelligence of General Howe's army being yesterday on its march from Brunswick to Princetown, which puts it beyond a doubt that he intends for this city.—This glorious opportunity of signalizing himself in defence of our country, and securing the Rights of America forever, will be seized by every man who has a spark of patriotic fire in his bosom. … Delay not a moment, it may be fatal and subject you and all you hold most dear to the ruffian hands of the enemy, whose cruelties are without distinction and unequalled …," 8 December 1776, [printed by John Dunlap] (Evans 15025) — "In Congress, December 9, 1776. Whereas General Washington hath repeatedly applied, and Yesterday has renewed his Application, for an immediate Reinforcement for the Defence of this City and State. … By all that is dear and valuable we intreat you to march without Delay, to join General Washington's Army now in Bucks County, agreeable to the above Resolve of Congress …," 9 December 1776, no imprint (Bristol B4329).
Among the other inserted broadsides and handbills are four general orders or other pronouncements by Major General Israel Putnam: "Philadelphia, December 12, 1776. All Officers of the Continental Army, who are now in this City by Furlow or Order … are hereby required to join their respective Corps before Tomorrow Evening. … The late Advances of the Enemy, towards this Place, oblige the General to request the Inhabitants of this City not to appear in the Streets after ten o'Clock at Night, …" (not traced in Evans, etc.) — "Head-Quarters, Philadelphia, Dec. 13th, 1776, The General has been informed that some weak or wicked Men have maliciously reported, that it is the Design and Wish of the Officers and men in the Continental Army, to burn and destroy the City of Philadelphia. … All Persons who have Arms and Accoutrements, which they cannot or do not mean to employ in Defence of America, are hereby ordered to deliver them to Mr. Robert Towers …" (Evans 15181) — "General Orders, Head-Quarters, Philadelphia, Dec. 14, 1776. … The General, to his great Astonishment, has been informed that several of the Inhabitants of this City have refused to take the Continental Currency in Payment for Goods …" (Evans 15182) — "Head-Quarters, Philad. Dec. 14, 1776. All Officers and Soldiers in and about this City, are ordered immediately to repair to the State-House (except the Jersey Militia) with their Arms and Accoutrements …" (not traced in Evans, etc.).
Not all of the ephemeral printings preserved in this newspaper volume were official publications. One of the most incendiary is an anonymous report, without imprint, from Bucks County, 14 December 1776: "The Progress of the British and Hessian Troops through New Jersey has been attended with such scenes of Desolation and Outrage, as would disgrace the most barbarous Nations …" (Evans 15037).
This volume, combining a run of the 1776 issues of the only Philadelphia newspaper printed continuously throughout the Revoltionary War with two score contemporary handbills and broadsides, is a remarkable survival and a significant witness to the first six months of the "free and independent" United States of America.
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