Declaration of Independence Question

Did King George III ever see a copy of the US Declaration of Independence? We know that copies were sent to Britain, but that doesn’t mean the King ever saw one.

He knew of it because he gave a speech to Parliament on October 31, 1776. Seems unlikely he wasn’t responding to the document itself.

Think how embarrassing it would have been if nobody had shown him a copy until around 1790 - and he said “Was that what this was about? Hell, this stuff was no big deal. I would have agreed to all of this.”

Was it before or after 1790 that George III started to turn kookoo?

There’s not much there for him to agree to - or perhaps I should say, his agreement would have changed nothing.

The document is basically a detailed list of all the bad things he has done, or been responsible for, and includes the pithy summary “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

If you believe Wikipedia, the first major spell was around 1788–9, with relapses around 1801 and 1803, and a final descent into mental illness around 1810 that lasted the remaining ten years of his life.

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It might be true that he gave such a speech, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was himself familiar with the document. By 1776, the office of Prime Minister in the modern sense, with the government being responsible to Parliament rather than the monarch, had already evolved. It’s thus not far-fetched to assume that George III was simply reading out a speech prepared for him by th government, as is nowadays common practice for the Speech from the Throne.

Nitpick: the office of Prime Minister did not exist in law until 1917. Prior to that, the “prime ministers” were officially just the leaders of the House of Commons (or quite frequently the House of Lords, and usually but not always First Lords of the Treasury.)

Note, too, that he didn’t have to have read the Declaration to make that speech – someone undoubtedly told him what was going on, and I could imagine he didn’t want to dignify the Declaration by reading it.

Now that would be a shame… John Hancock, so the story goes, signed his name large "so that King George could read it without his spectacles. " :wink:

That’s an urban legend.

Now that would be a shame… John Hancock, so the story goes, signed his name large "so that King George could read it without his spectacles. " :wink:

That’s why I wrote “so the story goes.”

Possibly, but what I know of George III I am not quite prepared to buy it. He came to the throne determined to be a lot more active as King than his two Royal predecessors and directed governments in a way not seen since Anne. He was certainly not an absolute monarch and had to work within a system set up by parliamentarians, but he was a political, active constitutional monarch.

The modern concepts of the monarch being ceremonial and impartial were a century away from being cemented.

I would wager he read it and had a lot of opinions about it!

Also, being British I love appreciating that we, the Brits, actually have the Declaration - after all, it’s not much of one if you keep it for yourself. The copy is in the US, the ‘original’ is here!

I’ve seen - and touched - it with my own eyes and hands too!

That would be a neat trick, since it’s kept inside a glass case filled with helium.

Not the one stored in the UK Parliament…

The actual signed document is known as the Engrossed Copy and is in the National Archives.

There are three Dunlop boardsides in Britain. The one that Parliament has is an acknowledged copy.

The one you saw can’t be the original if it was exposed to the air. The ink was badly fading on it by 1820. Any copy not sealed in a protective environment would be essentially blank today.

Happily corrected. Still cool to interact with a broadside though!

Just what IS a “broadside,” anyway?:confused: