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Oath of a Freeman was a loyalty oath drawn up by the Pilgrims during the early 17th century. A freeman was an established member of a colony who was not under legal restraint. The Oath was a vow to defend the Commonwealth and not to conspire to overthrow the government.

It survives only in a handwritten copy from 1634 and in a later printed version from 1647. Stephen Daye made a broadside printing of the document in 1639, but it is now lost.

Modern forgery

A supposed copy of Daye's printing surfaced in 1985 and was touted as the oldest surviving print in the United Statesmarker, but it was revealed to be the work of prominent forger Mark Hofmann.

Hofmann's Oath was the last of his forgeries, and was created as a final, desperate attempt to recover from financial hardship. Hofmann produced two copies of the Oath, which were bid upon by the Library of Congressmarker and the American Antiquarian Societymarker for over $1 million; authentication of the prints was underway when Hofmann began planting bombs in Salt Lake Citymarker to stall for time in another of his schemes. The bombs killed two people and injured Hofmann himself, and police uncovered evidence of his forgeries during the ensuing investigation.


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