Declaration of Independence, US Constitution - Americans Rank Priceless Paper Documents

The Declaration of Independence (True Books: American History)

Americans Rank Priceless Paper Documents

Declaration of Independence and US Constitution top the list
High-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence (1823 facsimile of the engrossed copy)
High-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence
(1823 facsimile of the engrossed copy)

Although the National Archives in Washington, D.C., is rapidly adjusting to the computer age, it is best known as the home of America’s priceless paper documents.

The magazine U.S. News & World Report invited citizens to rank America’s top-100 historic documents, as selected by the archives’ curators.  The archives then published a book called "Our Documents," which describes these paper treasures in detail.

Not surprisingly, the 1776 Declaration of Independence from Britain, and the U.S. Constitution - both of which visitors come from around the world to view at the Archives - finished one-two in Americans’ esteem.  Each got more than 27,000 votes.

Other landmark documents such as President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which declared that slaves in the rebellious southern states “are, and henceforward shall be, free,” rounded out the top 10.

If you’re curious which document came in last - number 100 - it’s the De Lome Letter, which got all of 97 votes.  Quite frankly, it’s so obscure that we’d never even heard of it.  But here’s the story of the De Lome Letter:

In 1898, Enrique De Lome, Spain’s minister to the United States, sent a letter to a friend in which he said U.S. President William McKinley “is weak and catering to the rabble.”  Someone intercepted it and snuck a copy to newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.  He printed it, fanning the flames for what became the Spanish-American War.

These days, when supposedly secret or private letters and conversations routinely find their way into the public eye, it seems fitting that a leaked letter would round out the list of America’s greatest documents.

Americans Rank Priceless Paper Documents

Article from VOA

See the image of the Declaration of Independence at the top of this article.

Did you know Robert Morris Jr., who lived in Oxford, Maryland for a short time during his youth, was one of only two Founding Fathers to sign all three historic documents including the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the US Constitution?

The Robert Morris Inn is a tribute to the architectural beauty of the 18th century. It was built prior to 1710 by ships' carpenters with wooden pegged paneling, ships nails and hand hewn beams. In 1730 an English trading company bought the house as a residence for Robert Morris who represented the firm's shipping business interests in Oxford.
Robert Morris moved from England to Oxford in 1738 and achieved a considerable reputation for himself and his firm. His son, Robert Jr., joined him in 1747 at the age of 13 and lived in Oxford before being apprenticed to a mercantile firm in Philadelphia. Robert Morris, Sr., died in 1750 as the result of an ironic accident; wadding from a ship's gun being fired in his honor struck his arm and proved fatal.
In 1750, Morris had been aboard the Liverpool Merchant, which had just arrived, welcoming the captain.  He climbed into a small boat to go ashore.  The captain readied the ship's guns to fire a salute, as was custom, when a fly lit on his nose.  His swat at the fly was misinterpreted by the crew, who fired the cannon prematurely, when Morris' boat was only 20 yards away.  Wadding struck Morris' right arm, breaking it and inflicting a wound that became infected.  Morris died six days later, only 39 years old and at the height of his career.  He is buried at White Marsh Church.
At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Robert Morris, Jr., was made partner in the Philadelphia firm he had joined as a boy. When few would risk money on a new concept of the United States, he used his entire savings to help finance the Continental Army and became a close friend of George Washington, who depended on him to direct the financing of the war.
Robert Morris, Jr. is known primarily by his title “The Financier of the American Revolution,” a reference both to his position as a Superintendent of Finance of the United States from 1781-1784 and to his general role in raising money and supplies for Continental government. He was one of the only two Founding Fathers to sign all three fundamental testaments of the American Revolution: The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, The United States Constitution. In the line of succession that include Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, Morris may be considered the first of the three great treasury secretaries who laid the financial foundations of the United States.
Robert Morris once lived in part of the Robert Morris Inn
Oxford, Maryland - Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay

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