"Williamsburg, July 27. Thursday the 25th instant the Declaration of Independence of the United Colonies was proclaimed here…"
Public readings of the newly minted Declaration of Independence took place in taverns, churches, town greens, or anywhere else people could gather. This July 27, 1776, issue of the Virginia Gazette records a public reading of the Declaration that took place in Williamsburg two days earlier. It was “received with universal applause, under a discharge of cannon, firing of small arms, illuminations in the evening, &c. &c.”
The news from Williamsburg also notes that, a week earlier, Virginia’s provincial council had ordered that the two printers in Williamsburg publish the text of the Declaration in their respective newspapers, which this Virginia Gazette, published by John Dixon (d. 1791) and William Hunter, did in its issue of July 20. The other Virginia Gazette, printed by Alexander Purdie (1743-79), included both the council’s directive and the text of the Declaration in its issue of July 26. To further ensure the spread of the Declaration, the council also ordered that the “sheriff of each county in this Commonwealth proclaim the same at the door of his courthouse, the first court day after he shall have received the same.”