The Declaration of Independence: America’s Most Famous Direct-Response Ad

by Gary North

On this day 240 years ago, New England’s most famous independent wholesaler, John Hancock, and Congress’s stenographer, Charles Thomson, signed a parchment. We celebrate that signing annually, often by setting off low-tariff fireworks imported from China.

Most Americans know little about the background of this event. The details they recall from a high school textbook are incorrect. There is great confusion. The amount of misinformation is shocking. I am here to clear up some widely held misconceptions. (Note: I have a Ph.D. in colonial American history. I have also been involved since 1974 in direct-response marketing. As far as I know, no one else has combined these two careers.)

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