Historical copy of Declaration of Independence on display in Southborough
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Visitors to the Southborough Library have the unique opportunity to view a piece of town history – the original copy of the Declaration of Independence that was sent to Rev. Nathan Stone (minister at the Meeting House in Southborough, which was located on the site of the current Pilgrim Church) to read to his parishioners in July of 1776.
According to Bob Elliott, a member of the Southborough Historical Society and a re-enactor, this copy of the Declaration of Independence is monumental. The head of each congregation was sent a copy with this order (as stated on the bottom of the document): “That the Declaration of Independence be printed; and a copy sent to the Ministers of each Parish, of every Denomination with in this State; and that they severally be required to read the same to their respective congregations, as soon as divine service is ended, in the afternoon, on the first Lord’s Day after they have received it.”
This was a not just a Declaration of Independence, it was a declaration of war – an obligation fought for not only during the long Revolutionary War, but that this country continues to fight for today.
The Declaration of Independence was delivered by a rider from Boston. As found on pages 86 and 87 of “Fences of Stone: A History of Southborough, Massachusetts,” written by Richard Noble, the event is described:
“It was in mid-July when a rider reached Southborough from Boston, bearing a special package for the selectmen and Rev. Stone. That Sunday, Nathan Stone stepped into the pulpit of the Southborough Meeting House, and read a document to the assembled congregation. It was ‘The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America’ dated July 4, 1776.” Rev. Stone read it to the congregation, it was then recorded by the Town clerk in 1776 and the document has been carefully stored and protected from that date forward.
In additional to the Declaration of Independence, visitors will see Colonial currency (each state had its own), items from a soldier’s mess kit, a cartridge box, weaponry, and more. The sword belonging to the captain of the Southborough Militia (Capt. Josiah Fay) is there as well, in an adjacent display case.
The display will remain at the library until at least July 15, longer if interest warrants.
When the display is taken down, the document will go back into storage at the Southborough Historical Museum.
“As a Revolutionary War re-enactor,” Elliot said, “I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous festive occasions as a member of the New England Patriots Endzone Militia, and have been honored to support our local veterans, but displaying Southborough’s copy of the Declaration of Independence is a true honor. I hope all residents of Southborough will stop in to see it.”
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