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Pownalborough Print before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Virginia will decide whether a Virginia resident or the State of Maine and the Town of Wiscasset own a copy of the Declaration of Independence printed in July 1776.

The Virginian, Richard L. Adams Jr., bought the Pownalborough Print for $475,000 about six years ago. Maine and the town laid claim to the print because it had surfaced in 1994 in the home of the man who was the Wiscasset town clerk from 1886 to 1929. The state and the town argued that the clerk had maintained the print as a public record.

Fairfax Circuit Judge R. Terrence Ney found the evidence insufficient to support the claim that the town, known as Pownalborough, Mass., in 1776 before Maine became a state, had ever had ever “received and maintained” the print as a public document.

It was one of the “broadsides” that the Executive Council of Massachusetts ordered to be printed and sent to ministers to read to their congregations and then filed with town clerks.

The Supreme Court agreed last week to hear Maine’s appeal. The Wiscasset Newspaper had an account of Ney’s ruling in February.

By Alan Cooper

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