However, it was also teeming with tons of gold bullion that had been moved there as fears of war strengthened. Morgenthau told MacLeish that he had available space—but only 60 cubic feet, about the size of a standing freezer, Puleo says. Denison University in Ohio would be added to the roster after the war began. When war finally came to America, MacLeish was prepared.
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As British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a joint address to Congress on December 26, , few knew of the secret operation taking place directly across the street. The four plain parcels were then loaded into a waiting armored truck and brought to Union Station for the rail journey to Kentucky.
Archibald MacLeish sealing and securing the original signed and engrossed Declaration of Independence in preparation for its relocation attached.
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In spite of the number of people involved—from the librarians to truck drivers—the operation remained clandestine for the entirety of the war. With fears of a possible Nazi attack on the American mainland abated, most of the 5, boxes were returned home to the Library of Congress in the summer of The only missing items, according to Puleo, were two notebooks that had belonged to the American poet Walt Whitman, one of which remains unaccounted for seven decades later. On October 1, , the U.
Constitution and Declaration of Independence returned to public view inside the Library of Congress. Before the doors opened, MacLeish addressed the Marine guard of honor tasked with protecting the documents. Nothing that men have ever made surpasses them.
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