Top: A police escort carries the Bill of Rights into the State Library and Archives Building.
Bottom: Staci Meyer, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources,
and Dr. Jeffrey J. Crow, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Archives and History, hold the Bill of Rights.
Bill of Rights Returns Home
Manuscripts expert Seth Kaller of New York was approached in 2002 by the agent of a client
(Wayne Pratt, Inc.) that wished to sell an original copy of the Bill of Rights. Kaller suggested
the National Constitution Center, then under construction in Philadelphia, as a likely customer.
He had no doubt been informed that the center was looking for just such an item preferably
Pennsylvania's missing copy to display at the opening of the center on July 4, 2003. Soon
thereafter, center president Joseph Torsella and board member and attorney Stephen J. Harmelin
were contacted by a broker offering to sell the center a copy of the Bill of Rights. The broker
sent a notebook detailing the history of the document, with photographs of the front and back.
Torsella contacted Charlene Bickford to authenticate the manuscript. From the photographs of the
back of the document. handwriting expert Helen Veit of the First Federal Project Congress staff quickly concluded that the document belonged to North Carolina. Bickford also noticed that information she had supplied to the mysterious visitors during her previous
appraisal of an original Bill of Rights was contained in the notebook.
Torsella then notified Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who was also a member of the museum board,
of the offer to sell the stolen document. Governor Rendell contacted his counterpart in North
Carolina, Michael F. Easley, to see if he would like to share the cost of purchase. Consistent
with the State's stance since 1897, the governor refused to even consider buying what rightfully
belonged to North Carolina. He sought the advice of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper
and the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh. Soon, the U.S. Marshal's Service and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation were laying plans for a sting operation to recover the stolen manuscript.