‘Declaring Independence’ exhibit kicks off July 1

Celebrate America’s independence by looking at the first facsimile print of the Declaration of Independence (1823) and other rare documents that reflect the challenges of creating a new nation in the midst of the Revolutionary War. These items and much more will be on display at the Fairfield Museum as part of its Declaring Independence exhibition, which runs from July 1-16.

This exhibition features items from the Revolutionary War, including documents from George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock and a July 3, 1776 order from Connecticut Gov. Jonathan Trumbull calling for troops to reinforce General Washington in New York City. In addition, visitors can learn how Fairfielders have celebrated independence over the years, and how the meaning of the Declaration has changed.

Seth Kaller, a dealer in rare historic documents, has loaned the Museum documents and prints for this exhibition, including the Declaration facsimile. The print — made from a copperplate engraving by William Stone — took three years to complete and is as close to an exact copy as was possible before the invention of photography. The condition of the original engrossed Declaration had already started to deteriorate, and today it is almost illegible.

Elizabeth Rose, the Museum’s library director, said, “It’s easy to forget that declaring independence in 1776 was a risky move, punishable as treason. These documents remind us that people across the colonies had to be convinced that it was time to take this bold step, without knowing what its outcome would be.”  

On July 9, while the “Declaring Independence” exhibition is on display, the Museum is holding its annual “Declaration Celebration,” which runs from 11-3. Admission to the Museum and the Museum Commons will be free, and the day will feature crafts, games, a British encampment with members of the 54th CT Regiment of Foot (similar to the one that invaded Fairfield in 1779), food trucks and family fun. In addition, the popular “Burning of Fairfield” Walking Tours will take place every half hour from noon-2. These tours sell out, so advance registration is requested at Fairfieldhistory.org/event/burning-of-fairfield-walking-tours-3/.

Visitors will stroll back in time while exploring the history and events surrounding the attack on Fairfield by the British on July 7-8, 1779. Docents dressed in period attire will guide the tours, which feature moments including the Proclamation from British General William Tryon and Admiral Collier, to the people of Connecticut and the anguished words of Eunice Burr, as she witnesses the ransacking and destruction of her home. Adults: $10; Students: $5.

The Fairfield Museum is located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield. For more information visit Fairfieldhistory.org or call 203-259-1598. The Museum and Museum Shop are open from 10-4 daily.

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