Add your John Hancock online
- By William Matthews
- Jun 13, 2001
The National Archives inaugurated an interactive Web site Tuesday that enables
individuals to add their signatures to the Declaration of Independence and
then print out copies of the historic document.
And while they're online at the Join the Signers section of the Archives'
Web site, (www.archives.gov), agency officials
hope visitors also will sign a check or a credit card receipt donating money
to a National Archives fund-raising effort.
The Web site is an Archives effort to make the "charters of freedom" the
Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights available
online even though the original documents will be temporarily taken off
display at the National Archives rotunda in Washington, D.C. The rotunda
is to be closed July 5 through 2003 for renovations.
Signing the declaration online is a bit more complicated than taking up
quill and ink, as the nation's founders did in 1776.
It may take up to two minutes to download a printable copy of the declaration
using a 56 kilobits/sec modem, according to the Archives. And unless you
already have it, you will also have to download and install a free copy
of Macromedia Inc.'s Flash 5.0 player.
Ready to sign? "Wait," the Archives cautions. "Before you actually sign,
you may want to think about the consequences of signing such a radical document.
The 56 brave men who signed in 1776 suffered hardship, financial loss
some even had their homes destroyed. They were pursued by the British and
threatened with treason."
More information about the signers and the history of the Declaration of
Independence is available in a part of the site called The Signers Gallery.
Modern-day signers of the declaration can choose type fonts and have the
option of printing out a copy in color or black and white. One font makes
your signature appear large and bold like John Hancock's; another will be
smaller, but firm, like Ben Franklin's.
By posting the Declaration of Independence and other documents online, the
Archives hopes to provide a broader constituency with a better understanding
of U.S. history, Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said.
The agency hopes the fund-raising feature on the site (Make Your Signature
Count) will help collect the $27 million needed to renovate a theater, restore
murals and preserve permanent exhibits during the Archives' building renovation.
The Web site also features a Charters of Freedom sales catalog where shoppers
can place orders for copies of documents ranging from the Constitution to
George Washington's inaugural address, books, teaching kits, framed documents
and other items.