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On 4 July 1776, the Committee that had drafted the Declaration of Independence presented their corrected and approved text to the printing shop of John Dunlap. The small number of copies that he printed that night provided, as they went forth the next day, the first step in the official declaration of independence throughout the colonies. Independence was proclaimed in Philadelphia on 8 July, in New York on 9 July (where the document was read aloud to Washington's assembled army), and in Boston on 18 July. At each new stop, local printers reprinted the text in their own newspapers and broadside editions.
Despite its hurried production, this handsomely printed version of the Declaration conveyed the revolutionary news throughout the new nation and fixed 4 July as the national anniversary. (The famous manuscript copy at the National Archives was authorized and signed after the fact.) The Massachusetts Historical Society's copy is one of only 25 known copies of the first Dunlap printing, the most important single printed document in American history.