- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) A University of Virginia alumnus plans to give the university his entire collection of historical documents related to the Declaration of Independence.
The gift would make Thomas Jefferson's school one of the largest repositories of artifacts from the Unites States' most important decree.
Albert H. Small, who lives in Bethesda, started with a recent donation of 10 documents, including an early 19th-century subscription book, signed by Jefferson, James Madison, John Q. Adams and others interested in the first copies of the Declaration.
"I am overwhelmed when I see who subscribed. It's incredible," said Michael Plunkett, director of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the university.
The donation also includes the "thunder and rain" letter written by Caesar Rodney, a delegate to the Continental Congress from Delaware.
Rodney wrote his brother Thomas on July 4, 1776, describing a harried trip to Philadelphia on horseback through thunder and rain in time to "give my voice in the matter of Independence."
His critical vote made all 13 Colonies unanimous in their decision to break free from Great Britain.
Mr. Small, a real estate developer and a former member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors, said he wanted his collection open to the public.
"These items tell the story of the Declaration of Independence and of those brave and bold men who put their lives at risk for our country and future," Mr. Small said.
The school also received a broadside from June 12, 1775, in which the British commander in North America, Thomas Gage, declares martial law and warns the American rebels to renounce their cause or face retribution. Gage offers to pardon anyone who ceases his rebellious behavior, except for Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offenses are considered too serious.
Only four copies of the broadside are known to exist.
"This is more the meat of the collection," Mr. Plunkett said of Mr. Small's newest gift. "In addition to being historically valuable, these items also help to tell the full story behind the Declaration. They tell about the preparation, production and printing of the Declaration."
In 2000, Mr. Small gave UVa. a group of early printings of the Declaration from the 13 colonies. The remainder of his collection includes similar historically important material, such as one of 25 known "first printings" of the Declaration by John Dunlap. The item belonged to George Washington.
The items in the recent gift and other highlights from Mr. Small's collection will be on display in the Declaration of Independence room that will be part of the Small Library, soon to be built at the university.

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