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The conclusions I had reached concerning the draught belonging to this Society were subsequently confirmed by the following letter, written in the autumn of 1841, from John Vaughan to the Prince de Joinville, a copy of which I have recently found among the Society's unarranged manuscripts.
NOTE RELATIVE TO THE ORIGINAL DRAUGHT OF THE DECLARATION OF
INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE
On the 7th day of June 1776 Richard Henry Lee moved in the American Congress “ That America should declare itself Independent of Great Britain ;' this motion was seconded by John Adams. The consideration of this motion was referred to ioth June. On that day Rich. Henry Lee received an account that his Wife was dangerously ill, obtained leave of absence from Congress and went home. On the oth June, Congress proceeded to the Order of the day, and after some debate, postponed the further consideration of the question to the ist July; but in order to save time, appointed a Committee to prepare a form of Declaration, to be ready for adoption, if then determined upon. The Committee named consisted of Mess. T. Jefferson, J. Adams, B. Franklin, Sherman & R. R. Livingston. Mr. Jefferson having been appointed Chairman of the above named Committee, it was assigned to him to prepare a Draught of the Declaration, (the three first named were the most active members.) The Draught was submitted to the Committee who suggested alterations. Amongst Mr. Jefferson's papers after his death there was found the Copy with the final corrections of his Associates from which a copy has been lithographed and appended to the Memoirs of Jefferson by his Grandson Thomas Randolph and a copy of this is preserved by the A. P. S. in a frame. From this rough corrected Draught Thomas Jefferson made Two fair Copies one to be submitted to Congress, as the report of the Committee, and one for Richard Henry Lee, the mover of Declaration, who did not return previous to the ist July. The fair original Copy intended for Congress was reported to that body by Benjamin Harrison (father of the late President Harrison to whom it had been entrusted) on ist July. Considerable alterations were made previous to its adoption which took place on 4th July. On
PROC. AMER. PHILOS. soc. XXXVII. 157. G. PRINTED JUNE 13, 1898.
the 8th July Mr. Jefferson wrote to Mr. Lee as follows. " I enclose you a copy of the Declaration of Independence as agreed to by the House and also as originally framed." This was the Second copy which he had made for Mr. Lee. Mr. Jefferson added “ You will judge whether it is better or worse for the Critics." On the suggestion of Mr. Jefferson the Comparison was made by Richard Henry Lee and his Brother Arthur Lee, who drew a black line upon the original draught proposed by the Committee under every part rejected by Congress; and in the margin opposite placed the word out. This document thus marked is the one possessed by the Am. Philosophical Society.
Sometime after the death of Richard Henry Lee his Grandson, of the same name, wrote the memoirs of his Grandfather, having obtained from his Father and Uncle all the papers and correspondence of his Grandfather with the Eminent Patriots of that day. These memoirs were published in Philadelphia by the Grandson in 1825 with whom I was on terms of intimacy. Whilst publishing he was requested to favour the Am. Philos. Society with the original papers and Documents as soon as he had made use of them. The request was granted and on the 17th June 1825 they were put in possession of the correspondence which is bound up in two Volumes, and on the 19th of August 1825 R. H. L. sent them the original form proposed by the Committee, in the handwriting of Mr. Jefferson, and with the marks thereon made by the two Lees above alluded to. When received it was duly recorded by the Society and Mr. Wm. Short & Mr. Edward Coles who were intimate Friends of Mr. Jefferson and the undersigned (who had been his Correspondent for more than 40 years) Certified on the book of records, that this Document was of the handwriting of Mr. Jefferson; and Mr. George Washington Smith, to whom the delivery was entrusted, certified that he received the whole from Richard Henry Lee the Grandson, with directions to deliver them to the A. P. Society and that he delivered them to the undersigned for the Society.
A copy of this proposed Declaration was published by the Grandson in the memoirs of his Grandfather the parts left out by Congress being printed in Italics; several Editions of this Italicised Copy of 1825 were published between that year and 1829, when it was republished and Lithographed in similar form in the memoirs of Thomas Jefferson which was first published in that year.
This original draught of the declaration is framed between strong glass Plates so as to be perfectly viewed and examined by those who feel an interest in it. The other Original sent to Congress, cannot be found. The form of Declaration finally adopted, & signed by the Members of Congress exists at Washington in the Department of State, but the originally proposed form has not been found, from which circumstance the Document in possession of the Society has with propriety become the sole ORIGINAL DRAUGHT.
France having largely contributed to the obtaining this Independence, the undersigned (in whose charge this document now is) has been led to think that a correct account of it, and the mode by which it was obtained, would be received with some interest by his Royal Highness the Prince de Joinville, who has now an opportunity of examining it. Under this impression this account has been drawn up by
JN. VAUGHAN (aged 85) Librarian of the Am. Phil. Society.
A letter identical with that to the Prince de Joinville, but with the last paragraph omitted, was also sent by Mr. Vaughan to Mr. J. K. Tefft, of Savannah, on October 5, 1841, and is now preserved in the Emmet collection in the Lenox Library in New York,' and previously, on March 27, 1841, he sent a letter of similar purport to Mr. George Combe, of Edinburgh,” in which he answers the charge of the Edinburgh Review (No. 141, p. 134, 1839) that he had hoaxed Captain Marryatt.
Captain Marryatt, in his Diary in America, page 43, Vol. iii, says, “Mr. Vaughan stated to me that he had found the original draft of the Declaration of Independence in the handwriting of Mr. Jefferson," and the Edinburgh Review, commenting thereon, states that if Captain Marryatt “had ever read that very interesting book (Memoirs of Jefferson, Vol. i, p. 17) he would have been aware how grossly a Mr. Vaughan, of Philadelphia, was hoaxing him when he talked of having discovered the original draught of the Declaration of Independence." Mr. Combe in his Notes on the United States (p. 330) says that “on my second visit to Philadelphia, in March, 1840, Mr. Vaughan enabled me to peruse original
1 For a copy of this letter I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Wilberforce Eames, Librarian of the Lenox Library.
Copy in the Society's collection of MSS.
letters, giving its history from the day it was composed to that on which it was presented to the American Philosophical Society.
Mr. Vaughan exhibited also a letter dated a few weeks before my visit from the son of Richard Henry Lee to himself, expressing his astonishment at the reviewer's remarks."
The letter of R. H. Lee, Jr., above referred to, is preserved in this Society's Manuscript Collections. It is dated, Washington, February 25, 1840, and is in reply to a letter from Mr. Vaughan of January 31, a copy of which is in the Dreer Collection of Autographs in the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In the course of the letter Mr. Lee says, “ The Edinburgh Reviewer was rather too learned in our Antiquities. There was no hoax by you, on Marryatt. The paper you shewed him may be called with strict truth an original Draught. It is more so than that at Washington. It was written verbatim after the first rough Draft of the Author, by the Author himself. It is as much, therefore, an original Draught as it well can be, inasmuch as the priority in time as to the first composed paper is a matter of no account where the same author writes at the same time and occasion the two draughts. Neither are copies."
The following copies of the Declaration of Independence in Jefferson's handwriting are known to exist :
1. The original rough draught showing changes made in Committee of five and also by parentheses and interlineations most of the changes made by the Congress in Committee of the Whole. This appears to have been the last draught made by Jefferson in its course through Committee, and from it he wrote the fair draught to present to the Congress as the report of the Committee and also the copy to send to Richard Henry Lee (2). He apparently used this same draught in Committee of the Whole and noted on it the changes as they were made by the Congress. This draught was first reproduced in facsimile in Randolph's Jefferson. It was acquired by the Government with the Jefferson papers and is now in the Library of the Department of State.
2. A copy of the draught reported by the Committee of five to the Congress and agreeing closely with the text of the preceding draught. This is one of two copies presumably made on or about the 27th of June, 1776; one was presented to the Congress as the report of the Committee of five and is believed not to have been preserved; the other is the copy in the possession of this Society, and was sent
by Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee on July 8th following, and presented in 1825, by his grandson, of the same name, to the American Philosophical Society, in whose library it is preserved.
3. A copy from the rough draught of the Committee of five, made in 1783 for James Madison and reproduced in fac-simile in The Madison Papers, Vol. iii., Washington, 1840. Also in the Library of the Department of Statė.
4. Another copy from the rough draught of the Committee of five, slightly different in wording, inserted by Jefferson in the manuscript copy of his Autobiography. This is written on contemporaneous paper and was a copy probably made by Jefferson not long after the adoption of the Declaration. Also in the Library of the Department of State.
5. A copy in the Emmet collection in the Lenox Library, New York. “ This is one of several fair copies made by Jefferson from the original rough draught of the Declaration, after its adoption and publication, in which he gave the wording of the text as reported by the Committee, with the portions underlined that were changed or rejected by Congress. After remaining in the possession of the Lee family of Virginia for many years, with other papers of Jefferson,
was sold by the late Mr. Cassius F. Lee, of Alexandria, to Mr. Elliot Danforth, of New York, from whom Dr. Emmet obtained it."
I have not been able to learn the circumstances under which this copy came into the possession of the Lee family. Dr. Emmet writes me that the only information he “ can give is that Mr. Lee stated to me that it was one of the copies Jefferson sent his grạndfather, and that it had been sent to some one in lower Virginia by Richard Henry Lee shortly after, and that it was not recovered for many years after.'
This copy is without interlineation and does not contain the additions made by the Congress. It is, with some slight exceptions, the text of the document as reported to the Congress.
i Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 1897, p. 355.
2 Personal communication, April 16, 1898. It does not seem likely that Jefferson should have sent two similar autographic copies of the Declaration to Richard Henry Lee, and as the history of the copy possessed by this Society is clear and indisputable, it is probable that the Emmet copy came from another source, and Mr. Paul L. Ford, the learned student of Jefferson's works, informs me that he is inclined to believe that it is the copy sent to John Page.