“I am sure I mean it well, as experience teaches us, that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves, than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.” George Washington
A Printer of Sermons
Have you ever heard of the “Broadside” copy of the Declaration of Independence? It is the only surviving fragment of the Declaration of Independence that was printed by John Dunlap, a Philadelphia printer, and read by General George Washington to his troops.
John Dunlap emigrated from Strabane, Northern Ireland as a ten year old lad and apprenticed as a printer under his uncle, William Dunlap. John later bought the printing business from his uncle who decided to go into the ministry. The shop printed mostly sermons at that time. John Dunlap’s business continued to flourish and his reputation grew. In 1776, he was given a lucrative printing contract by the Continental Congress. In July 1776, fighting between the American colonists and the British forces had been going on for nearly a year. On July 2, the Second Continental Congress voted to secede. Two days later, they approved the final wording of a public declaration regarding their decision, which we today call the Declaration of Independence. That evening John Hancock ordered Dunlap to print broadside copies of the declaration. Dunlap printed perhaps 200 broadsides, since known as the Dunlap broadsides, which were the first published versions of the Declaration.
A copy of the Dunlap broadside was sent to George Washington by John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. General Washington had this Declaration read to his assembled troops on July 9, 1776 in New York, where they awaited the combined British fleet and army. Later that night, American troops destroyed a bronze-lead statue of Great Britain’s King George III that stood at the foot of Broadway on the Bowling Green. The statue was later molded into bullets for the American Army.