In June of 1776, five men - John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston - began drafting the Declaration of Independence. A final draft was sent to Congress on July 1, and it was ratified on July 4. However, Congress had made some revisions, much to the dismay of Jefferson, the primary author. For posterity, he immediately made several copies of the original text, underlining the sections that had been modified.
The New York Public Library possesses one of Jefferson's handwritten copies, one of only two known to exist intact. It is currently the centerpiece of a showcase of other versions and early printings of the document. These items are on display through the end of the month.
Gothamist reader Michael, who tipped us off to this exhibit, tells us Jefferson had impressively neat penmanship. He also writes:
The whole exhibit reminded me of what this country was founded on: sticking it to the man. But Jefferson does it in such a subtle way - read the part where he rails on slavery. And you can see John Hancock's signature, it's really not that big.
And you know what they say about the size of a man's signature...
The exhibit is located in the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery on the first floor of the NYPL Humanities and Social Sciences Library on 5th Avenue at 42nd Street (directions). Gallery hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11:00am to 7:30pm; Thursdays through Saturdays, 10:00am to 6:00pm.