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When Jefferson gave away the writing box to family members, in the 1820s, he wrote about "the sacred attachments" that Americans felt toward many items associated with the Revolutionary era . Such relics might "acquire a superstitious value, because of their connection with particular persons." His own writing desk became a relic in this way, and in 1880, his descendants donated the Declaration of Independence desk to the American people.

Since that time, many Americans have viewed the desk in the National Museum. Yet Americans today may disagree over whether its chief importance lies in its association with a revered "Founding Father," with the massive political mobilization of the Revolutionary generation as a whole, or with the still disputed political principle that the executive must rule according to law.

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