Exactly 236 years ago today, President of the Continental Congress John Hancock sent one of the just-printed copies of the Declaration of Independence to General Artemas Ward, commander of the Continental Army troops in Boston. Hancock’s letter came to Houghton as part of John Hubbard Collection of signers of the Declaration of Independence, previously mentioned here on the Houghton Blog.
The enclosed Declaration of Independence I am directed to transmit to you, with a request that you will have it proclaimed at the head of the troops under your command, in the way you shall think most proper.
I have only time to add, that the importance of it will naturally suggest the propriety of proclaiming it in such a manner as that the whole Army may be fully apprized of it.
Hancock sent a similar missive to George Washington, headquartered in New York. Washington’s copy of the Declaration now resides at the Library of Congress.
This post is part of a weekly feature on the Houghton Library blog, “You’ve Got Mail,” based on letters in Houghton Library. Every Friday this year a Houghton staff member will select a letter from the diverse collections in the Library and put that letter into context. All posts associated with this series may be viewed by clicking on the You’veGotMail tag.
[This post was contributed by John Overholt, Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson and Early Modern Books and Manuscripts.]