Rare Declaration of Independence Arrives for Independence Day


Have you ever bought the commemorative edition of a newspaper or magazine? Maybe you bought the TIME issue that commemorated President Obama’s inauguration, or the Boston Globe the day after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. James Madison bought commemorative editions too. 

Records show that he subscribed to John Binns’ engraving of the Declaration of Independence in 1816. Binns, the Philadelphia publisher of The Democratic Press produced a commemorative edition of the Declaration available for purchase by the public.

Now, visitors can see a commemorative edition of the Declaration of Independence like the one James Madison owned. The print features the text of the Declaration of Independence and engraved signatures of the signers. Medallions depicting the seals from the thirteen original colonies form a decorative oval surrounding the text, along with portraits of signers George Washington, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson.

While Montpelier has not yet located Madison’s copy, the print is an original, and identical to the copy he bought. The elaborately framed Declaration hangs above the mantel in the Montpelier Drawing Room. Correspondence by Dolley Madison’s niece Mary Cutts tells us that Madison’s copy hung in the Drawing Room.

The Declaration of Independence print arrived just in time for Independence Day. Montpelier thanks the Family of Robert M. and Mary Page Stewart for the loan of this rare treasure. Happy Independence Day from all of us here at the home of the Father of the Constitution!

A commemorative Declaration of Independence hangs above the Montpelier Drawing Room mantel.








Montpelier Staff