Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

News broke this week that a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence has been found in the British National Archives (read or watch the story), just in time for our 4th of July celebrations. But an even more surprising find occurred 2 years ago: Michael Sparks of Nashville, Tennessee, bought a rolled-up, shellacked document at a local thrift store for $2.48 - it turned out to be an official copy of the Declaration and sold at auction for $477,650! And in 1989, an unnamed Philadelphia man found a pristine copy of the Declaration folded in back of a picture frame he had purchased at a flea market for $4.00 - it was auctioned by Sotheby's in 1991 for $2.42 million and resold in 2000 for $8.14 million!
Both the 3rd U.S. president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), who drafted the Declaration of Independence, and the 2nd U.S. president John Adams (1735-1826), who urged Congress to adopt it, died on this day - exactly 50 years after the document was signed. The many interests and accomplishments of Jefferson are particularly fascinating: he was an architect (designed his Virginia home, Monticello); an inventor (of a revolving bookstand, a copying machine, etc.); an archaeologist; a birdwatcher; a gardener; a gourmet; and a collector of books (which were purchased to reestablish the Library of Congress). There is a very special biography of Jefferson here - be sure to take a look, and enjoy the fireworks tonight!

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