Over the past two weeks, I've highlighted eight little-known facts about the Declaration of Independence. (If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can find them at http://www.creators.com/opinion/chuck-norris.html.) Here are the last four facts in my series:
9) One of the 26 known July 1776 copies of the Declaration of Independence was found behind an old painting purchased at a flea market for $4.
In 1991, one of 24 known copies at the time of the declaration -- and one of only three known to be privately owned -- was auctioned for $2.42 million. What's even more staggering is where it was originally found.
According to The New York Times, "the previous owner, who was not identified, had told Sotheby's (art auctioneers) he bought a torn painting for $4 in a flea market in Adamstown, Pa., because he was interested in its frame. When he got home, he said, he removed the painting -- a dismal country scene -- and concluded the frame could not be salvaged, but found the Declaration, folded and hidden in the backing."
The 25th and 26th copies later surfaced. The 25th was sold in excellent condition in 2000 for $8.1 million. The 26th emerged at The National Archives in Britain in 2009. It had been hidden for more than 200 years in a box of papers seized during the Revolutionary War from Colonists.
10) The Declaration of Independence was placed in Fort Knox during World War II.
Two weeks after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, two national treasures -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution -- were transported under armored protection from Washington to Fort Knox. According to History's website, "under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944."
As far as the declaration's placement in the National Archives Building goes, on Dec. 13, 1952, it -- along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights -- was officially delivered to the archivist of the United States, Wayne Grover, and enshrined at the National Archives in a ceremony two days later, attended by President Harry S. Truman.
11) There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
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