I was sitting at a bar with friends a couple months back and we were talking about Nic Cage movies and obviously National Treasure came up. So I asked the question would you do 20 years in prison to break into the building holding the Declaration of Independence and sign it? Immediately mostly everyone said no and I couldn’t comprehend why. 20 years for my legacy to last forever? Sign me up. I would get out of prison at 48. From now until 48 what am I going to do that would have any significant impact on the world? What is 99% of the people in this country going to do? What would you miss in 20 years? A couple weddings, maybe a baptism, and some trips to Disney World? And not to mention 48 is still young. Depending on how much the prison food tears apart my insides or how many times I get shanked I probably have close to another 30 years in this world. Just to have my name on the most important document in American history for the rest of eternity? Literally sign me up.
Look at how awesome this looks!
Look at that document and tell me who’s signature stands out the most? I outrank Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, whoever else signed. I totally cucked John Hancock. The guys who signed this probably hated John Hancock. What’s he over compensating for having his signature so big? John Hancock is the guy with the spoiler on the back of his Honda Civic. And now fourth grade classes forever are going to ask their teachers “who’s signature is that?”. And their teachers are going to have to explain how a madman pulled off an Oceans 11 type heist to sign his name on a piece of American history. I’d get my own chapter in the history books. Shit I’d get a wing in the building! They’ll probably make another National Treasure movie based on the events. More Nic Cage in your life? You’re welcome.
And before you try to tell me “Kyle how could you be ok defacing a symbol of democracy.” I say fuck off. The British aren’t just going to waltz in and take back our independence. We already beat the British. We’re the most powerful country in the world until China releases their next bioweapon. Me signing the declaration would be a news story for 72 hours and I’d do 20 years just to be the most famous person from Montgomeryville ever? Move over ROZES. Easiest decision of my life.
P.S. I probably wouldn’t even get 20 years according to this Reddit post from u/cpast. Just made this decision even easier.
As far as I can tell, the theft itself (leaving out any conspiracies, crimes beforehand, or crimes afterwards, as well as multiple counts for the same crime) would come under 18 USC 668 (theft of major artwork) and carry the full 10-year maximum sentence (the Declaration is rather valuable). You might get nailed for more time if tried in DC court, actually (theft in DC has a max sentence of 15 years), but I don’t know if you really would. If you could simultaneously be charged with 641 (theft of government property), then you’d be bumped up to the recommended sentence — 10-12.5 years if it’s worth over $20M, 12.5-15.5 if it’s over $50M, 15.5-20 if it’s more than $100M (basically). If you’re charged with both, though, the judge could decide to go past the guidelines and hit you for 20 years.
Much of the sentence is due to the value (a first printing went for $8M in 2000, which is >11M these days, so even if the original is just worth that — which it’s probably worth more — you’d be facing 5-6.5 years); however, a bunch of it is due to the fact that the Declaration is a cultural heritage object. However, none of it is because the Declaration is the Declaration. It’s not treasonous to steal the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution says “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The killer is that it’s two things: one, it’s a cultural heritage object, and two, it’s federal property. Both justify federal charges, and they can stack.