Broadside Timeline

Dunlap Broadside Timeline
As the capital of the state during the Revolution, Congress sent New Hampshire’s copy of the Dunlap Broadside to Exeter. It arrived on July 16, 1776 and was read aloud in the center of town by John Taylor Gilman when he was just twenty-two years old. John Taylor Gilman was the son of the state treasurer Nicholas Gilman and lived in the Ladd-Gilman House for the majority of his life.

In 1905, a Gilman family descendant gifted the Broadside to the Society of the Cincinnati, who owned the Ladd-Gilman house and continue to own the museum. Where the Broadside was between 1776 and 1905 remains a mystery, but it is known that it was framed sometime in the late nineteenth century and hung on a door in the Sullivan Room in the Ladd-Gilman House, where it was photographed in the 1920s.

At some point, it was placed in the attic where it was rediscovered by a member of the Society of the Cincinnati in 1985. It was authenticated and determined to be the same Broadside that was read by John Taylor Gilman in 1776. It was the twenty-third copy of a Dunlap Broadside known to exist at that time, and today there are only twenty-six copies known to still exist.

Origins of American Independence Museum
After it was found in the attic, the Society decided to place the Broadside for sale and it was set to be auctioned by Sotheby’s. The auction house notified the state of New Hampshire of the auction on the remote chance that the state might claim ownership of the Broadside. Sotheby’s believed that there was little chance that the state would claim ownership and felt reasonably confident that the state would sign off on any possible claim on the document.

However, the state did claim ownership of the Broadside and a legal battle ensued between the state and the Society. In the end, a compromise was reached, giving dual ownership to the state and Society. An agreement was made that allowed the Society to retain possession of the Broadside under the condition that it be made available to the public, which is the reason that the American Independence Museum exists today.