A typo in the Declaration of Independence?

Jul 04, 2012

Dissemination of public documents was slow and labor-intensive in 1776. It’s too late to know for sure, but it’s interesting to speculate why a colonial printer — hurried, perhaps carried away by the excitement — would print copies of the Declaration of Independence and get the date wrong: June, weeks before the document was actually signed.

In the excited aftermath of the Declaration of Independence, colonial printers prepared multiple copies of the document, often for the purpose of public reading.

The John Carter Brown Library has two copies of the version that was printed at Newport by Solomon Southwick not long after the Fourth of July. One copy bears the date July 12. The other, curiously, bears the June 13, as if it had been printed in advance of Day. Perhaps the normally cautious printer allowed his hands to move too quickly (in patriotic jubilation?) as he set the type for the wrong month.

Explore further: Best of Last Week – First map of hidden universe, pursuit of compact fusion and new clues about the causes of depression

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

3Qs: Celebrating America's independence

Jul 04, 2012

Wednesday marks the country’s annual cel­e­bra­tion of the adop­tion of the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence on July 4, 1776. But there are many inter­esting his­tor­ical ...

Recommended for you

Secrets of dinosaur ecology found in fragile amber

19 hours ago

Ryan McKellar's research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, McKellar uses the tiny pieces ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Argiod
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 04, 2012
Maybe this was an advanced copy printed so they could proofread it before submitting it for approval and signatures. I can't imagine they would wait until the last minute to print the thing.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.6 / 5 (5) Jul 04, 2012
It was probably a slip of the fingers....or his spectacles. There are only 2 letters....the ne in June and the ly in July that makes all the difference. Perhaps a pint too many?
Anyway...happy Independence Day.