The year 2016 was awash with stunning political victories. Here at home, Donald Trump did what most thought was impossible when he defeated Hillary Clinton. But as surprising as that was, it might not have been the biggest political upset of 2016. Earlier in the year, the United Kingdom shocked the world when it voted to leave the European Union. When the dust settled, 2016 was a year that rattled the establishment.
Perhaps it’s no surprise the UK and the US had similar political movements in the same year. After all, the two countries share much in common. Aside from a shared language and similar cultural traditions, the United States and the United Kingdom have fought side by side in some of the the world’s most important conflicts.
Of course, before there was a United States, there were the British colonies of North America. In a time when the two nations were a bit less friendly, the American colonies declared their independence from the British Crown. That history was not lost on those campaigning for Brexit. In fact, supporters of the campaign drew parallels between America’s fight for independence to the current campaign for British independence.
When the British voted to leave the EU, they made history. So it is perhaps fitting that a piece of American history was just discovered in England. A piece of history with an almost scary reminder of the present.
A second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence has been found. In England, of all places.
It’s a remarkable discovery, because the only other parchment manuscript copy of the historic document is housed behind glass at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
You see, most copies of the Declaration of Independence are just that — copies. They are facsimiles of the one housed in the National Archives, which is called the Matlack Declaration and regarded as the official document.
The scholars were also able to shed some light on why the document ended up in England:
Allen and Sneff, who presented their findings last week at Yale University, said that nationalist James Wilson was the likely commissioner of the parchment on behalf of the federal Constitution.
The scholars determined the parchment was definitely written in the US, mostly likely in New York or Philadelphia. It is believed that the Third Duke of Richmond — known for his support of Americans during the Revolution — could have originally owned the document.
It is unclear, however, when and how the parchment reached the UK.
It’s a well-timed discovery, especially as the UK gets set to embark on a path independent from the European Union. Sometimes, history has a way of coming full circle.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]