Over the last two Wednesdays, I have been lucky enough to be able to share with you an incredibly rare document – a report issued regarding the review of the processes used in development of the Declaration of Independence. The first installment provided the Background, Objective, and Scope; the second installment consisted of the Opinion and some of the Issues. Following are the remainder of the Findings, as well as a statement on Corrective Action.
No analysis was performed at the beginning of the independence process to determine if said declaration would result in benefits that outweighed the various costs. While it cannot be denied that the ensuing independence was successful, no documentation exists to show the ultimate price of the resulting freedom. Such statements as “The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance” do not provide a fair and balanced approach to this analysis. Accordingly, the country cannot truly determine if the steps taken for independence were warranted. In defense of this lack of analysis, all parties who were involved in the declaration process have indicated the process was successful, often citing the surrender of English forces. However, no key performance indicators were established to show the success of this endeavor, and all declarations of success must be considered anecdotal.
While our research found no evidence of fraud, it is apparent from review of the final declaration document that fictitious names and forgeries were used in its signing. Individuals involved in such schemes are usually quite careful in establishing believable names for these fictitious individuals. However, it is apparent no effort was put into establishing these names. Examples of obviously fictional delegates include Button Gwinnett, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Elbridge Gerry. In addition, while differences in signatures are expected, the various sizes (in particular the signature of John Hancock) make it evident that forgeries are rampant and no efforts were made to conceal such perpetrations.
We have been unable to get agreed upon corrective action for the identified control breakdowns. Delegates indicate that, while they appreciate our efforts, they cannot find time due to celebrations and new issues arising in their local areas. While we understand that delegates may have conflicting priorities, we feel that the risks identified in this report may result in unsuccessful independence declarations in the future.
The auditors would like to thank Dr. Franklin for this opportunity and hope to be of benefit in providing similar services after the completion of the Constitution.
I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into our history. Scholars continue to poor through the recently discovered collection. If there is a particular historical audit report you might be interested in having us share, let me know and I’ll see if we can find it in the archives.