Declaration gift to US Archives

A RARE copy of the Declaration of Arbroath has been gifted to the US National Archives by the Culture and External Affairs Secretary.

In recognition of the historical connections between the American Declaration of Independence and Scotland’s most treasured document, a limited edition print of the Declaration of Arbroath was presented on Friday by Fiona Hyslop on a visit to the National Archives in Washington, DC.

In 1998, the US Senate passed a Resolution designating every April 6 as Tartan Day in the United States, recognising the links between these two cherished documents.

Ms Hyslop said: “The Declaration of Arbroath is Scotland’s greatest documentary treasure. It sought international recognition of our nation’s independence and placed great emphasis on the importance of freedom.

“It is a great compliment to Scotland that the US has chosen to officially recognise the similarities between the US Declaration of Independence and our own Declaration of Arbroath.

“That is why I am so delighted to present this rare, limited edition print of the Declaration of Arbroath to the US National Archives. It is a fitting way to recognise and celebrate the close and deep ties between our two nations.”

William J. Bosanko, executive for Agency Services of the US National Archives, responded: “I welcome this opportunity to mark and continue the long and deep historic links between Scotland and the US, which are reflected in our respective archives.”

The print is hand pulled from a copper plate engraved by William Home Lizars around 1815, which was used for the Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Scotland until 1871 and was not printed again for 130 years.

In 2000 a limited edition of 100 prints was commissioned and hand printed onto 100 per cent cotton rag Fabriano paper. For preservation reasons no further prints will be made from this plate. Print no. 7 has been presented to the US National Archives.

The Declaration is a Latin letter which was sent to Pope John XXII in 1320. It was most likely drafted in the scriptorium of Arbroath Abbey by Abbot Bernard on behalf of the nobles and barons of Scotland.

It was one of three letters sent to the Pope in Avignon, the other two being from King Robert Bruce himself and from four Scottish bishops, attempting to abate papal hostility. The document received the seals of several Scottish barons and it was then taken to the papal court at Avignon in France by Sir Adam Gordon.

Nearly 40 per cent of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent and the two documents share a passionate declaration of independence with an eloquent appeal on behalf of liberty.