Although the publication of the Declaration of Independence took place in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, helping to launch the city’s Liberty Weekend, paraphrased former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne , declaring that the bulk of the work of the Revolution had taken place. in New Jersey. They just did the paperwork in Philadelphia.

Gusciora was participating in the weekend’s launch event, a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on Friday by 19 people, who read the sections individually and then gathered in unison to recite the final lines.

It was on July 8, 1776, four days after its publication, that the declaration was first publicly read outside Philadelphia, in Trenton in front of what was then the Hunterdon County Courthouse. As the boundary lines were later changed, Trenton now exists in Mercer County.

People participate in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at the same time and place it was read 246 years ago, the first time those words were read publicly outside of Philadelphia. Each person read individual lines and then, as a group, spoke the final lines. Historical interpreter Algernon Ward is closest to the camera.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The program included keynote addresses and musical selections. Following this, some participants walked through South Warren Street (or King Street as it was known in colonial times) to a location where a new plaque was unveiled marking the exact spot where the words that gave birth to a nation were heard for the first time. outside Philadelphia 246 years ago.

It has been at least 40 years since there has been a landmark on the spot.

Bernard McMullan, president of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations, said the new plaque was the result of the support and cooperation of many organizations and individuals, citing the Trenton Kiwanis Club as its sponsor.

“From my perspective, as a community, we need to do everything we can to preserve our city’s history as a lasting legacy,” McMullen said. “This includes the restoration of plaques… It also involves being vigilant to conserve historic assets that are now under threat.

“Since 1776, as a community, we have allowed the loss of important buildings, entire neighborhoods and even sights, like the river.”

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

To kick off Liberty Weekend in Trenton, Bernard McMullan, president of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations, participates in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence at the same time and place it was read 246 years ago.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

A new plaque is unveiled in downtown Trenton marking the spot where the Declaration of Independence was first read outside Philadelphia, July 8; 1776. Mayor of Trenton Reed Gusciora is at left and at right holding the cover cloth is Bernard McMullan, president of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

The new plaque unveiled in downtown Trenton marking the spot where the Declaration of Independence was first read outside Philadelphia, July 8; 1776. Bernard McMullan, president of the Council of Civic Associations of Trenton, notices the missing plaque and invites the Kiwanis club to work with him to obtain funds to replace it. Grants and support were obtained from the Mercer County Cultural and Historical Commission and the Trenton Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The plaque has a QR code that links to a number of different current Trenton residents reading the Declaration of Independence in English and Spanish. In the coming months, according to McMullen, a Braille version of the text on the sign will also be installed.

McMullen said funding for the marker was provided jointly by the Mercer County Cultural & Historical Commission and the Trenton Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture. It sits on property recently purchased by the Communications Workers of America, who agreed to have the marker placed on their property, just off the South Warren Street sidewalk.

Liberty Weekend continues through Sunday and includes among other events. There will be a Saturday morning flag raising at the Battle Monument, a downtown scavenger hunt and a Saturday night concert at Cadwalader Park by 60 musicians with the Capital Philharmonic Orchestra.

The closing event is a 9:30 a.m. Sunday service at Historic Turning Point Methodist Church celebrating its place as the first Methodist Church in New Jersey, marking its 250th anniversary.

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Devoura Wise (aka Lady Dee) delivers a moving rendition of Mariah Carey’s song “Hero” before a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in downtown Trenton at the same time and place it was read for the first time 246 years ago.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Kicking off Liberty Weekend in Trenton, Alex Treece, president-elect of the Trenton Kiwanis, participates in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Standing at the back; Musician Donald Bolding (aka Pup) sings the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes song ‘Wake Up Everybody’ after a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in downtown Trenton. Hitting the beat, left to right, Shereyl Snider, East Trenton Collaborative, and Bernard McMullan, president of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Pictured left to right, Old Barracks historical interpreter Daryian Kelton shows people on a mural in downtown Trenton to Devoura Wise (aka Lady Dee) and her niece Joan Wise.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Historical interpreter Algernon Ward participates in a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Trenton.Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

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Michael Mancuso can be reached at [email protected]