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[Stone, William J.]
In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

A remarkable find after 177 years: A long lost official William J. Stone copy of the Declaration of Independence presented in 1824 to signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

(Washington, D.C.): “ENGRAVED by W.I. STONE, for the Dept. of State by order/of J.Q. ADAMS Sect. of State, July 4th 1823”. Copperplate engraving on vellum.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia resolved that the United States were “Free and Independent” from Great Britain. Two days later, the delegates approved the final text of what would later be referred to as the Declaration of Independence. It was then signed—only by John Hancock and Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson—then immediately sent to John Dunlap’s shop to print official broadsides (single printed pages with text only on one side). Over the next few days, Hancock sent Dunlap’s broadsides to the state governments, General George Washington, and other top commanders and political leaders. Congress waited for New York to change its abstention to yes then ordered the newly unanimous Declaration to be engrossed (written in a clear hand) onto parchment. Finished at the beginning of August, the signers added their signatures, mostly on August 2, 1776. Their names weren’t published until 1777.

In 1820, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, wanting to preserve for posterity the image of the original engrossed Declaration, obtained Congressional approval to commission William J. Stone to engrave a plate to make exact copies of the Declaration. After nearly three years, Stone completed his work.

In 1824, Congress ordered 200 copies printed for distribution. First on that list were two copies each to go to the three surviving signers: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Adams’ copies survive in the Massachusetts Historical Society, each with inscriptions that JQA added on the reverse when he was organizing his father’s estate. Jefferson’s estate was largely disbursed, and there is no record of where his Stone copies went; they are not counted among the signers’ examples known to survive.

After July 4, 1826, when Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other, Carroll became the last surviving signer of the Declaration, the one man with a living memory of the momentous decision. Four weeks later he inscribed and gave one of his copies to his grandson-in-law, John MacTavish. When the Maryland Historical Society was founded in 1844, MacTavish donated Carroll’s inscribed copy to them.

The inscriptions in the lower left corner of the example here tell the story of Carroll’s disposition of both of the copies he was given: "Presented to his friend John/Mac Tavish Esquire by/the only Surviving Signer/of this important State Paper,/exactly half a century/after having affixed his/name to the Original Document./(Signed) Ch. Carroll of Carrollton/ Doughoregan Manor/1826, August Second." The signer wrote that inscription on his other copy before giving it to MacTavish, who copied it onto this document (so Carroll’s “signature” here was penned by MacTavish), and then added: "The Original presented/to the Hist: Soc: of Md/November 30/[18]44./JMc T."

Condition

Original folds and light soiling. 31 3/4 x 27 3/8 in. (806 x 695 mm). A beautiful and strong impression, with very large margins.

Provenance

Presented to Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), 1824.
John MacTavish (1787-1852), husband of Carroll’s granddaughter, Emily Caton (1794/5-1867).
By descent in a Scottish family to present owner.

Estimate
$500,000 - $800,000
 

Place Bid
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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

A remarkable find after 177 years: A long lost official William J. Stone copy of the Declaration of Independence presented in 1824 to signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

(Washington, D.C.): “ENGRAVED by W.I. STONE, for the Dept. of State by order/of J.Q. ADAMS Sect. of State, July 4th 1823”. Copperplate engraving on vellum.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia resolved that the United States were “Free and Independent” from Great Britain. Two days later, the delegates approved the final text of what would later be referred to as the Declaration of Independence. It was then signed—only by John Hancock and Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson—then immediately sent to John Dunlap’s shop to print official broadsides (single printed pages with text only on one side). Over the next few days, Hancock sent Dunlap’s broadsides to the state governments, General George Washington, and other top commanders and political leaders. Congress waited for New York to change its abstention to yes then ordered the newly unanimous Declaration to be engrossed (written in a clear hand) onto parchment. Finished at the beginning of August, the signers added their signatures, mostly on August 2, 1776. Their names weren’t published until 1777.

In 1820, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, wanting to preserve for posterity the image of the original engrossed Declaration, obtained Congressional approval to commission William J. Stone to engrave a plate to make exact copies of the Declaration. After nearly three years, Stone completed his work.

In 1824, Congress ordered 200 copies printed for distribution. First on that list were two copies each to go to the three surviving signers: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Adams’ copies survive in the Massachusetts Historical Society, each with inscriptions that JQA added on the reverse when he was organizing his father’s estate. Jefferson’s estate was largely disbursed, and there is no record of where his Stone copies went; they are not counted among the signers’ examples known to survive.

After July 4, 1826, when Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other, Carroll became the last surviving signer of the Declaration, the one man with a living memory of the momentous decision. Four weeks later he inscribed and gave one of his copies to his grandson-in-law, John MacTavish. When the Maryland Historical Society was founded in 1844, MacTavish donated Carroll’s inscribed copy to them.

The inscriptions in the lower left corner of the example here tell the story of Carroll’s disposition of both of the copies he was given: "Presented to his friend John/Mac Tavish Esquire by/the only Surviving Signer/of this important State Paper,/exactly half a century/after having affixed his/name to the Original Document./(Signed) Ch. Carroll of Carrollton/ Doughoregan Manor/1826, August Second." The signer wrote that inscription on his other copy before giving it to MacTavish, who copied it onto this document (so Carroll’s “signature” here was penned by MacTavish), and then added: "The Original presented/to the Hist: Soc: of Md/November 30/[18]44./JMc T."

Condition

Original folds and light soiling. 31 3/4 x 27 3/8 in. (806 x 695 mm). A beautiful and strong impression, with very large margins.

Provenance

Presented to Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), 1824.
John MacTavish (1787-1852), husband of Carroll’s granddaughter, Emily Caton (1794/5-1867).
By descent in a Scottish family to present owner.

Note

The Declaration of Independence inspired the Revolution and provided a startling new vision for government, but was then shunted aside. The greatest breakup note and most monumental list of grievances in history actually made no attempt to establish a government to replace the system it was overthrowing. The Articles of Confederation was needed to do that, and the United States Constitution was needed to do it again, successfully.

Constant threat from powerful nations including Britain and France, and political battles that led to the first American parties, nearly ended America’s experiment in democracy many times in the first decades of its existence. Ironically, the War of 1812 disaster of the British invasion and burning of Washington, D.C. set the stage for a wave of patriotic reaction and reflection. The end of the War effectively confirmed America’s independence, and America’s founding document began to be transformed into a symbol at the core of America’s identity.

Entrepreneurs like John Binns and Benjamin Owen Tyler decided to capitalize on this new patriotic zeal by creating facsimile printings of the Declaration, including copies of the not yet famous signatures. As competition for the most faithful facsimile became heated, the need for an accurate version became apparent.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sought to preserve for generations to come not just the historic text, but what later became—in large part due to his prescient decision—the iconic look of the engrossed Declaration. (Adams might have been spurred on by the fact that Binns included portraits of John Hancock, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, but not his father John Adams, who was really the moving force behind adoption of the Declaration).

The engrossed Declaration, penned by Timothy Matlack and signed beginning on August 2, 1776, was already showing signs of deterioration. It had been carted around with the various moves of the government, rolled and unrolled to show to visitors, left unprotected from changes in temperature and humidity, and then used to model the first facsimiles.

In 1820, Adams commissioned master engraver and printer William J. Stone to create an exact facsimile of the Declaration. Using the original engrossed document, it took Stone about three years to completely engrave his copperplate. It had been assumed that to create a perfect facsimile, Stone employed some kind of wet or chemical ink-transfer process, but research by Seth Kaller, Inc. and by Harvard University’s Declaration Resources Project revealed evidence arguing against that, including several points where the Stone and the engrossed original differ. In any case, most of the severe damage that left the document almost entirely unreadable came later, caused by decades of display in direct sunlight and disastrous restoration efforts.

On May 26, 1824, through a joint resolution of Congress, Secretary Adams was instructed to distribute copies to various dignitaries and institutions. The last three surviving signers—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Carroll—each received two copies, sent by JQA with cover letters dated June 24, 1824. John Adams' two copies now reside in the Massachusetts Historical Society. According to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's two Stone copies, along with other facsimiles and prints relating to the Declaration, "were dispersed among his family following his death in 1826, and none are known to survive today." The President, Vice President, Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House, various governors and legislatures of the states and territories, each department of the Federal government, universities (fewer than 40 existed in the United States by then), and the Marquis de Lafayette, all received copies. Though they were not on Congress’s official distribution list, at least a couple of families of deceased signers received copies from allocated recipients.

On August 2, 1826, Charles Carroll, inscribed and gave one of his two copies to his grandson-in-law, John MacTavish, husband of Carroll's granddaughter, Emily Caton. That copy was then gifted by them to the fledgling Maryland Historical Society (now the Maryland Center for History and Culture) by the end of 1844.

Very few of the Stone Declarations have any evidence tying them to their original recipients. Were it not for the inscription by MacTavish and his copying here Carroll’s inscription on the donated copy the connection would have been lost. The present copy has been unaccounted for over the past 177 years.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832) was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate to the Continental and Confederation Congresses, and later served as the first United States Senator from Maryland (1789-92), as well as in the Maryland State Senate (1781-1800). He was known as the "First Citizen" of the colonies due to his early support for independence, including influential articles he wrote under that name for publication in the Maryland Gazette.

At the time of the Revolution, Carroll was reportedly the wealthiest man in America, owning thousands of acres. After the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both on July 4, 1826, he became the last living signer of the Declaration.

John MacTavish (1787-1852) was a Scottish-Canadian diplomat and businessman who served as British Consul to the State of Maryland, and was also the heir to the Canadian North West Company fur trading business. He married Charles Carroll's granddaughter, Emily Caton (1794/5-1867), at Carroll's estate, Doughoregan Manor, on August 15, 1815. As a wedding gift, Carroll gifted them Folly Quarter farm, on nearby land. During the final years of Carroll's life, he was cared for by Emily in her downtown Baltimore home. In 1834, after the death of executor Robert Oliver, she was appointed executrix of Carroll’s estate by the courts. Emily's mother, Mary Caton, inherited Doughoregan Manor. When she died in 1846, it passed to Emily and her three sisters.

Catholicism and Civil Rights in America

In colonial and early Federal America, Catholics were deprived of religious freedom and civil rights in numerous ways: excluded from voting and holding public office, forbidden to have their own churches and schools, and subject to many other legal disabilities.

In Virginia, a 1641 law decreed that Catholics would be fined 1,000 pounds of tobacco for trying to hold public office. The next year, all Catholic priests were given five days to leave the colony. In 1661, the colony’s citizens were required to attend established Protestant services or face fines. In 1699, Catholics were deprived of voting rights, and in 1705, they were declared incompetent as witnesses in court. Anti-Catholic test oaths were required of all Virginia civil and military officers; George Washington would not have been granted his first military commission had he not signed one on March 19, 1754. (Test oaths were the result of an act requiring civil and military officials to deny key aspects of the Catholic faith, particularly the idea of transubstantiation.) He would soon find himself at the center of a battle that ignited war between Britain and France, a defeat that led him to sign the only surrender of his career. Ironically, his defeat there provided the experience needed to later shepherd America through the Revolutionary War, and his signature on the anti-Catholic oath undoubtedly provided some of his later motivation to expand rather than restrict religious freedom.

Most American Catholics, regardless of their treatment, favored the American Revolution. While Charles Carroll of Carrollton was the only Catholic among the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, there were two among the 39 signers of the Constitution: Daniel Carroll of Maryland and Thomas Fitzsimons of Pennsylvania.

In March of 1790, President George Washington responded to a letter from the American Catholic community. Bishop John Carroll, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Daniel Carroll, Thomas Fitzsimons, and Dominick Lynch, had written to Washington encouraging respect for religion and furthering the ideal of religious liberty. (America’s foundational principal of religious freedom would soon be enshrined in the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791). Washington’s response validated their optimism and defined his understanding of equal treatment under the law:

“As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow, that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the Community are equally entitled to the protection of civil Government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their Government: or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.”

History teaches us to look forward fortified by knowledge gained from a foundational document such as this with all of its attendant threads. It also reminds us how fragile the beginnings of America really were.

This is a unique opportunity to own the only known copy of the Declaration of Independence, printed by William Stone on order of Congress, presented to a signer of the original document, still in private hands.

Freeman’s would like to thank Seth Kaller for his assistance with the authentication and cataloguing of this extraordinary historic document.

  

Please click 'Request Additional Information' to submit a request.

  


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All property offered and sold (“property”) through Samuel T. Freeman & Co, (“Freeman’s”) shall be offered and sold on the terms and conditions set forth below which constitutes the complete statement of the terms and conditions on which all property is offered for sale. By bidding at the auction, whether present in person or by agent, by written bid, telephone, internet or other means, the buyer agrees to be bound by these terms and conditions.

1. Unless otherwise indicated, all Property will be offered by Freeman’s as agent for the Consignor.

2. Freeman’s reserves the right to vary the terms of sale and any such variance shall become part of these Conditions of Sale.

3. As a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, in person inspections of the Property are available by appointment only and therefore, Freeman’s has also made available to the Buyer the opportunity to (a) view the lot online at freemansauction. com and to view the auction’s e-catalogue, (b) submit a request for a condition report either through the online lot listing or by contacting the specialist directly and (c) have a virtual consultation with the specialist. Buyer acknowledges that it has had the right to take advantage of the aforementioned inspections prior to the sale to determine the condition, size, repair or restoration of any Property. Buyer acknowledges that  it had the right to make a full inspection of all Property prior to sale to determine the condition, size, repair or restoration of any Property. Therefore, all property is sold “AS-IS”. Freeman’s is acting solely as an auction broker, and unless otherwise stated, does not own the Property offered for sale and has made no independent investigation of the Property. Freeman’s makes no warranty of title, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, or any other warranty or representation regarding the description, genuineness, attribution, provenance or condition to the Property of any kind or nature with respect to the Property.

4. Freeman’s in its sole and exclusive discretion, reserves the right to withdraw any property, at any time, before the fall of the hammer.

5. Unless otherwise announced by the auctioneer at the time of sale, all bids are per lot as numbered in the printed catalogue. Freeman’s reserves the right to determine any and all matters regarding the order, precedence or appropriate increment of bids or the constitution of lots.

6. The highest bidder acknowledged by the auctioneer shall be the buyer. The auctioneer has the right to reject any bid, to advance the bidding at his absolute discretion and in the event of any dispute between bidders, the auctioneer shall have the sole and final discretion either to determine the successful bidder or to re- offer and resell the article in dispute. If any dispute arises after sale, the Freeman’s sale record shall be conclusive in all respects.

7. If the auctioneer determines that any opening or later bid or any advance bid is not commensurate with the value of the Property offered, he may reject the same and withdraw the Property from sale.

8. Upon the fall of the hammer, title to any offered lot or article will immediately pass to the highest bidder as determined in the exclusive discretion of the auctioneer, subject to compliance by the buyer with these Conditions of Sale. Buyer thereupon assumes full risk and responsibility of the property sold, agrees to sign any requested confirmation of purchase, and agrees to pay the full price, plus Buyer’s Premium, therefore or such part, upon such terms as Freeman’s may require.

9. No lot may be removed from Freeman’s premises until the buyer has paid in full the purchase price therefor including Buyer’s Premium or has satisfied such terms that Freeman’s, in its sole discretion, shall require. Subject to the foregoing, all Property shall be paid for and removed by the buyer at his/her expense within ten (10) days of sale and, if not so removed, may be sold by Freeman’s, or sent by Freeman’s to a third-party storage facility, at the sole risk and charge of the buyer(s), and Freeman’s may prohibit the buyer from participating, directly or indirectly, as a bidder or buyer in any future sale or sales. In addition to other remedies available to Freeman’s by law, Freeman’s reserves the right to impose a late charge of 1.5% per month of the total purchase price on any balance remaining ten (10) days after the day of sale. If Property is not removed by the buyer within ten (10) days, a handling charge of 2% of the total purchase price per month from the tenth day after the sale until removal by the buyer shall be payable to Freeman’s by the buyer. Freeman’s will not be responsible for any loss, damage, theft, or otherwise responsible for any goods left in Freeman’s possession after ten (10) days. If the foregoing conditions or any applicable provisions of law are not complied with, in addition to other remedies available to Freeman’s and the Consignor (including without limitation the right to hold the buyer(s) liable for the bid price) Freeman’s, at its option, may either cancel the sale, retaining as liquidated damages all payments made by the buyer(s), or resell the property. In such event, the buyer(s) shall remain liable for any deficiency in the original purchase price and will also be responsible for all costs, including warehousing, the expense of the ultimate sale, and Freeman’s commission at its regular rates together with all related and incidental charges, including legal fees. Payment is a precondition to removal. Payment shall be by cash, certified check or similar bank draft, or any other method approved by Freeman’s. Checks will not be deemed to constitute payment until cleared. Any exceptions must be made upon Freeman’s written approval of credit prior to sale. In addition, a defaulting buyer will be deemed to have granted and assigned to Freeman’s, a continuing security interest of first priority in any property or money of, or owing to such buyer in Freeman’s possession, and Freeman’s may retain and apply such property or money as collateral security for the obligations due to Freeman’s. Freeman’s shall have all of the rights accorded a secured party under the Pennsylvania Uniform Commercial Code.

10. Unless the sale is advertised and announced as “without reserve”, each lot is offered subject to a reserve and Freeman’s may implement such reserves by bidding through its representatives on behalf of the Consignors. In certain instances, the Consignor may pay less than the standard commission rate where Freeman’s or its representative is a successful bidder on behalf of the Consignor. Where the Consignor is indebted to Freeman’s, Freeman’s may have an interest in the offered lots and the proceeds therefrom, other than the broker’s Commissions, and all sales are subject to any such interest.

11. No “buy” bids shall be accepted at any time for any purpose.

12. Any pre-sale bids must be submitted in writing to Freeman’s prior to commencement of the offer of the first lot of any sale. Freeman’s copy of any such bid shall conclusively be deemed to be the sole evidence of same, and while Freeman’s accepts these bids for the convenience of bidders not present at the auction, Freeman’s shall not be responsible for the failure to execute, or, to execute properly, any pre-sale bid.

13. A Buyer’s Premium will be added to the successful bid price and is payable by the buyer as part of the total purchase price. The Buyer’s Premium shall be: 26% on the first $600,000 of the hammer price of each lot, 20% on the portion from $600,001 through $3,000,000 and 12% thereafter.

14. Third-Party Internet Bidding Services (a) Third Party Bidding Platforms. We engage third party online bidding platforms to collect or facilitate auction bids (“Bidding Platforms”), each of which levy a fee for their services, and have their own rules on fees and how to bid and buy online using these Bidding Platforms. Freeman’s has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, or practices of any Bidding Platforms. Your dealings with Bidding Platforms are solely between you and such Bidding Platforms. We encourage you to be aware of, and to read, the terms and conditions and privacy policy of any Bidding Platforms that you visit. You expressly release Freeman’s from any and all liability arising from your use of any Bidding Platform or other third-party website or service. (b) Waiver. Absentee Bids left with Bidding Platforms are released to Freeman’s when a lot comes up for sale. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, WILL WE AND OUR SELLERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, LOST PROFITS OR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES THAT RESULT FROM THE USE OF, OR THE INABILITY TO USE, THESE BIDDING PLATFORMS.  

15. Unless exempted by law from the payment thereof, the buyer will be required to pay any and all federal excise tax and any state and/or local sales taxes, including where deliveries are to be made outside the state where a sale is conducted, which may be subject to a corresponding or compensating tax in another state.

All purchases made at Freeman’s, therefore, will be subject to the Pennsylvania State and Local sales tax--currently at a combined rate of 8%, which is applied to the hammer price plus buyer’s premium--unless the successful buyer submits the required tax exemption documentation. Those seeking exemption from sales tax must provide a valid certificate to Freeman’s prior to outgoing shipment.

In accordance with Pennsylvania State law, if Freeman’s or the buyer arranges for a lot/s to be shipped outside of Pennsylvania through an independent, third-party shipping company, Freeman’s must collect Pennsylvania sales tax on the lot/s irrespective of the property’s final destination. If the item is first delivered to any hired service provider (e.g. restorer, storage facility, etc.) located in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania sales tax will still be applicable and invoiced, even if the lot will ultimately be shipped out-of-state.

16. Freeman’s may, as a service to buyer, arrange to have purchased property posted and shipped at the buyer’s expense. Freeman’s is not responsible for any acts or omissions in packing or shipping of purchased lots whether or not such carrier is recommended by Freeman’s. Packing and handling of purchased lots is at the responsibility of the buyer and is at the entire risk of the buyer.

17. In no event shall any liability of Freeman’s to the buyer exceed the purchase price actually paid.

18. No claimed modification or amendment of this Agreement on the part of any party shall be deemed extant, enforceable or provable unless it is in writing that has been signed by the parties to this Agreement. No course of dealing and no delay or omission on the part of Freeman’s in exercising any right under this Agreement shall operate as a waiver of such right or any other right and waiver on any one or more occasions shall not be construed as a bar to or waiver of any right or remedy of Freeman’s on any future occasion.

19. These Conditions of Sale and the buyer’s, the Consignor’s and Freeman’s rights under these Conditions of Sale shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Consignor and Buyer agree to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.   

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