Town to shows its 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The town of Portsmouth will show off its 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence at an upcoming special event. 

Soon after the Declaration of Independence was approved by the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on 4 July 1776, Christopher Southwick, a printer in Newport, prepared a copy of the Declaration for each of the Rhode Island towns.

They were distributed to each town and are important second generation copies of the original Declaration of Independence.

Portsmouth’s copy is one of only four known remaining copies in the state. One is in a town’s collection and the other two are in private hands.

The Portsmouth copy was rescued from an obscure location in the Town Hall by then Town Clerk Carol Zinno and historian John Pierce. It was sent to the National Archives for authentication and, when that was completed, it was very carefully framed and preserved.

It is kept in the Town Clerk’s vault and brought out for display on this occasion each year.

The Declaration will be on display in the Town Hall from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 6.

Portsmouth Town Historian and Historical Society President Jim Garman will give brief comments on it at 6 p.m.

This is a rare opportunity to see this historic document and learn more about Portsmouth’s history.

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