Declaration of Independence makes a journey to Minnesota

The document is one of the 25 of the original 200 copies remaining in the world.

Ahnalese Rushmann

Minnesota may be celebrating its 150th anniversary this month, but a document with a little more national bearing may steal the state’s spotlight.

where to go

see The Declaration of Independence
what: The Declaration of Independence on public display.
when: May 6 through May 18 at the following times: Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
where: The Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. Admission to the declaration, along with a display of Minnesota historical documents, is free.
For more information, visit www.mnhs.org.

Starting today, the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the 13 colonies free of British rule, will be on public display at the Minnesota History Center.

Printer John Dunlap made an estimated 200 total copies of the document on July 4, 1776. But only 25 copies, including this one, remain.

“Dunlap doesn’t get enough credit, in my opinion,” said Tane Danger, a Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission spokesman. “This was an extreme act of treason.”

Other declaration duplicates reside in the United States, although a couple of them are housed in England. Private collectors own some.

The location of the draft originally signed by John Hancock is unknown, Danger said.

The copy, known as a “Dunlap broadside” and the only one that travels for exhibition, was discovered in 1989 behind a painting at a flea market.

It was auctioned for $2.42 million by Sotheby’s in 1991 and again in June 2000. That time, it was bought by a foursome headed by television producer Norman Lear.

Lear, who developed shows such as “The Jeffersons” and “All in the Family,” founded Declare Yourself, a nonprofit campaign to promote voting in 2003.

While the document may call Los Angeles its permanent home, Danger said it doesn’t get a lot of down time.

“It has a travel schedule like a national politician,” he said.

The nation’s birth certificate will also appear at the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Danger said, as well as other political events around the country.

The exhibit coincides with Minnesota Statehood Week – commemorating the state becoming the 32nd of the Union. It also launches the Minnesota secretary of state’s “Democracy Starts Here” activities, focusing on the history and future of the state’s democracy.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said the declaration’s language still has strong relevance today.

There are people that attack the government and perceive it as an enemy and “the source of all evil,” he said.

“But the declaration established a government by the people, for the people,” Ritchie said.

While the connection between the declaration and Minnesota may not be immediately clear, Danger said it’s strong.

“The Declaration of Independence is what makes statehood possible,” he said. “We’re celebrating our bond with these 49 other states.”

Danger said he hopes visitors don’t just quickly glance over the document and leave, but instead really read the words.

“Statehood, like the Declaration of Independence, is a manifestation of what we can do together that we can’t do alone,” he said.

It’s “breathtaking” to think a piece of 231-year-old paper made revolutionary changes that still affect politics today, Danger said.