Today marks the anniversary of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
In Philadelphia, the site of the first reading, the Liberty Bell rang out to call citizens to the occasion. Militia officer John Nixon made the proclamation from the garden of the Pennsylvania State House, atop a platform that had originally been constructed for observation of the transit of Venus in 1769. According to a classic Harper’s magazine account, many attended and celebrated the reading: “At evening bonfires were lighted, the houses were illuminated, and it was not until a thunder-shower at midnight compelled the people to retire that the sounds of rejoicing were hushed.”
The Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia hosts annual reenactments of the first public reading by John Nixon. National Park Rangers and professional actors join visitors to relive the historical moment from over 200 years ago.