A Clear Declaration of Intent

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from The New York Times,

The Declaration of Independence should not be a mystery.

Yet offering a facsimile alone, as The New York Times has done every Fourth of July for 90 years, does not do much to illuminate it. While the language of the document is lucid, the florid 18th-century handwriting can be difficult to decipher.

This year, The Times is presenting a much higher-resolution facsimile, furnished by the National Archives and Records Administration. It is accompanied for the first time by a transcription, set in the Imperial typeface, following the capitalization, punctuation and spelling of the original. Catherine Gilmore-Barnes, a Times art director, designed the page.

The point of the exercise — to reacquaint Americans with this stirring document — is unchanged since July 4, 1897, when The Times, newly acquired by Adolph S. Ochs, first reproduced the declaration on Independence Day, calling it the “original charter of the Nation.” (The custom of printing a facsimile annually dates to July 4, 1922.)

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