Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff — both researchers at Harvard University found this parchment manuscript in a records office in Sussex County, England. So they’re calling it The Sussex Declaration.
“Up until now, only one large-format ceremonial parchment manuscript was known to exist,” Allen said. “That one is in the National Archives and was produced in 1776. This one was produced a decade later, with the signed parchment as its source.”
Both versions measure 24 by 30 inches, although unlike the official one the Sussex copy is oriented horizontally.
And, Allen said, “it illuminates the politics of the 1780s in a flash.”
This is why:
The list of signatories in “The Sussex Declaration” is not grouped by states. It supports the notion that the Declaration’s authority rested on one united people, not a collection of states.
“This parchment manuscript illuminates in one stroke how the Federalists and anti-Federalists debated the question of whether the new republic was founded on the authority of a single, united sovereign people or on the authority of 13 separate state governments,” Allen said.
John Hancock’s signature is more prominent on the official Declaration, while on the Sussex copy all the signatures are the same size.