Entire Declaration of Independence printed in S.C.

The Charleston Library Society on Wednesday unveiled a newspaper from 1776 that includes the first copy of the Declaration of Independence to be published in South Carolina.

The South Carolina and American General Gazette from Aug. 2-14, 1776, was acquired at auction by The Post and Courier Foundation. It is on permanent loan to the library society.

The paper carried news in Charleston of the Declaration's public proclamation and printed its entire contents. It was the only paper in the state to publish the full text of the historic document.

The society plans to display the original paper to the public for about the next two weeks at its 193 King St. headquarters, said Eric Emerson, executive director. After that, the four-page broadsheet will be stored in a vault to protect it from light damage, he said.

The original and a high-quality color copy will be made available to researchers, Emerson said. The original could be brought out for future public displays, but the society has no plans to do so right now, he said.

The South Carolina and American General Gazette was published by Robert Wells and was one of three papers of the period printed in Charleston. It has no connection to The Post and Courier, which dates from the Charleston Courier, first published in 1803.

The Gazette's journey back to the Holy City began in 2000, when a Virginia rare-newspaper dealer and appraiser put it on the auction block at Christie's in New York. Word of the paper's existence and sale reached the offices of The Post and Courier Foundation, a separate, nonprofit corporation established by the newspaper.

After some legal claims about the Gazette's ownership, the foundation took possession of the document in 2001, after bidding $140,000 for it at auction in 2000.

The unveiling Wednesday included a presentation on Wells by David Moltke-Hansen. The event also was meant as a nod of gratitude to The Post and Courier Foundation, "for rescuing and returning" the paper to Charleston, the society said.