GDISPLAY1743-2

Original Charles Toppan Facsimile Engraving of Thomas Jefferson’s First Draft of the Declaration of Independence

Original Steel Cut Facsimile Engraving of Jefferson’s Draft of the Declaration of Independence by Charles Toppan | Philadelphia: Charles Toppan, 1829 | Commissioned for the first biography of Thomas Jefferson | Appearing in Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, edited by Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830 | Item is the first sheet (2 pages) only of the Four folio-format sheets | Excellent preserved condition

Description
Additional information
  • Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) Steel Cut Engraving of his Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence by Charles Toppan. Philadelphia: Charles Toppan, 1829 | Very Possibly a Printers Proof Copy of the Toppan Engraving | Commissioned for the first biography of Thomas Jefferson | Appearing in Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, edited by Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830 (See Images) | Item is the first sheet (2 pages) only of the Four folio-format broadside woven paper sheets printed on rectos only | Excellent preserved condition with Printer’s fold | Charles Toppan was  a noted early antiquarian and the first to produce an engraved facsimile of Jefferson’s manuscript of the Declaration.

    Written in June 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, included eighty-six changes made later by John Adams (1735–1826), Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790), other members of the committee appointed to draft the document, and by Congress. The “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence, one of the great milestones in American history, shows the evolution of the text from the initial composition draft by Jefferson to the final text adopted by Congress on the morning of July 4, 1776. At a later date perhaps in the nineteenth century, Jefferson indicated in the margins some but not all of the corrections suggested by Adams and Franklin. Late in life Jefferson endorsed this document: “Independence Declaration of original Rough draught.”

    Jefferson’s Penning of the Declaration: Originally, the delegates of the Second Continental Congress pushed for Richard Henry Lee, author of the Lee Resolution, to write the Declaration of Independence, not Jefferson. However, circumstances changed the course of history. First, Lee was appointed to the Committee of Confederation for the writing of the Articles of Confederation, and thought that being part of both committees would be too great an effort. Second, his wife became gravely ill during the Philadelphia convention, forcing him to return home prematurely.

    A young delegate from Virginia who had shown great promise was selected to take Lee’s place. His name was Thomas Jefferson, and he would quickly become one of the most important individuals in the history of the United States. What most people don’t know is that, at first, Jefferson had no interest in penning the Declaration. He wanted John Adams to do it instead. Adams writes in his account of the episode in a letter to Timothy Pickering, a politician from Massachusetts and a good friend of Adams:

    “Jefferson proposed to me to make the draft. I said, ‘I will not,’ ‘You should do it.’ ‘Oh! no.’ ‘Why will you not? You ought to do it.’ ‘I will not.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Reasons enough.’ ‘What can be your reasons?’ ‘Reason first, you are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can.’ ‘Well,’ said Jefferson, ‘if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.’ ‘Very well. When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting.”

    And so, it was settled. Over the course of seventeen days, in between meetings and other governmental affairs, Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence under the advisement of the Committee. It was an act that secured Jefferson’s name in history forever.

    Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence tried to show that “Independence had become necessary- which implies there was no reasonable alternative… The Declaration of Independence was distinguished from its American and English relatives in part by its efforts to prove that George III was a tyrant, which led to other distinctions such as the extraordinarily large number of grievances it listed” (Maier, p. 123). In Jefferson’s original draft he stated that the people of the American colonies had the right to overthrow government if it infringed on any of the people’s natural rights. Natural rights, according to John Locke, are “rights that are God given and can never be taken or given away”. His draft also contained direct accusations that King George had violated the natural rights that the people of the colony should have. Jefferson also goes on in attacking the English people, who had elected a parliament, which worked together with the king ultimately, denying the people of the colonies their natural rights.

    When Congress got hold of Jefferson’s draft they decided that the harsh language directed at the British people be removed as well as cutting out one of Jefferson’s grievances to the King, which dealt with the removal of slavery and the slave trade. Congress knew that southern slave states such as South Carolina and Georgia would not go along with the Declaration if it made direct attacks on slavery plus they knew such a change to remove slavery from the colonies cold not happen overnight. Even though Jefferson attacked the slave trade in his original draft Congress knew that the colonies were not quite ready for abolishing slavery. Therefore, the natural rights that were established in the colonies were not intended for slave even though they too were people who should also be given these rights. “The Americans were destined to receive criticism enough for asserting the ‘inalienable’ rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ while themselves owning slaves” (Maier, p.146). Therefore they decided to remove this portion of Jefferson’s draft.

    Library of Congress Description:  Original Rough Draft of the Declaration Written in June 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, included eighty-six changes made later by John Adams (1735–1826), Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790), other members of the committee appointed to draft the document, and by Congress. The “original Rough draught” of the Declaration of Independence, one of the great milestones in American history, shows the evolution of the text from the initial composition draft by Jefferson to the final text adopted by Congress on the morning of July 4, 1776. At a later date perhaps in the nineteenth century, Jefferson indicated in the margins some but not all of the corrections suggested by Adams and Franklin. Late in life Jefferson endorsed this document: “Independence Declaration of original Rough draught.”

  • Weight

    1lb.

    Height

    14"

    Width

    18"

    Depth

    .1"

    Weight

    1lb.

    Height

    14"

    Width

    18"

    Depth

    .1"

    Artist / Maker

    Charles Toppan

    Date

    19th Century

    Kind

    Books, Maps, Documents and Manuscripts

    Medium

    Engraving

    Origin

    American

    Subject

    Document