Portsmouth Shows 1776 Copy of Declaration on Independence

On July 6, 2017, the Portsmouth Town Clerk brought the Town’s Copy of the Declaration of Independence out of the vault for the public to see.  It is called a “Southwick” copy.  Upon the signing of the declaration in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress commissioned its official printer, John Dunlap, the create copies of the Declaration to be dispatched on horseback to each of the colonies.    The Rhode Island Secretary of State, Henry Ward, commissioned Newport Printer Solomon Southwick to print copies of the declaration for each RI town.  It is unknown how may copies were printed and distributed on or about July 14, 1776.  The copy help by Portsmouth has an inscription, “Town Clerk, Portsmouth” verifying that it is actually Portsmouth’s copy. About 5 “Southwick” copies are know to still exist and it is believed that Portsmouth is the only RI municipality to still posses their copy.

More information on the Southwick copy can be found at https://digitalhistory.hsp.org/pafrm/doc/declaration-independence-first-newport-printing-solomon-southwick-july-4-1776


More information on Declarations can be found at the Harvard Declaration Research Project

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