Friday, February 27, 2009

I Declare!

The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled a Virginia man owns a very rare 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence. Richard Adams, Jr. bought the historic document in 2001 for $475,000. The State of Maine, which found out about the purchase through a tip, sought to retrieve it claiming it is the property of the town of Wiscasset where it was held by the town clerk in 1776.
Maine argued that it was an official town document and should be returned. But, Adam's attorney successfully argued that since the clerk had transcribed the Declaration into the town record books - that transcription is the official town record.
About 250 copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed in Massachusetts for reading in towns and villages. At that time, Maine was part of Masschusetts. Only 11 of those originals still exist.
While Adams won the suit and can claim legal ownership, we should all hope he donates or sells it to an appropriate museum. The Declaration of Independence, and all its original copies, are the property, indeed the inheritance, of the American people.

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