A four-foot by six-foot metal reproduction of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence will soon be on permanent display at the Chester County Historical Society thanks to work of state Senator Andy Dinniman who arranged the gift from Krishna Swamy, a documentation artist from India.
Swamy, who has also completed large metal engravings of the Constitution of Canada, the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of India, recently visited Dinniman’s West Chester District Office to present the engraving to Rob Lukens, Executive Director of the Chester County Historical Society.
“This is an amazing and generous gift to the people of Chester County as we mark the 236th birthday of our nation,” Dinniman said. “It is a symbol, not only of our patriotism and pride, but also of the values of freedom and liberty we share with our neighbors around the world where America continues to stand as a beacon of hope for all.”
Swamy, an architect and engineer, began the process of engraving copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence on a metallic sheet in 1998 after visiting the National Archives in Washington, D.C. He had difficulty reading the goatskin parchment and was inspired to engrave the documents on metal in order to preserve them for posterity.
“I thought of the idea of putting it on metal,” he recalled. “It was something I felt I must do by my own hand. It was very, very difficult to copy it all. It was a tedious process and took a lot of patience.”
The process took five years as Swamy meticulously engraved complete reproductions of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, along with the signatures of the signers and images of the nation’s seal, the American flag and the Constitutional Convention on five metallic plates. Once complete, the plates were assembled and sprayed with gold plating.
“It’s incredible. It’s just incredible,” said Lukens, who added that the historical society would display the piece proudly as it continues to work to recognize the region’s rich cultural diversity.
“At the historical society, we have really done a great job of looking back at Chester County’s heritage,” he added. “But what we are also doing now is making an effort to ensure that we are a home for everyone’s heritage as it relates to our future as a people. It’s about our county and about everyone’s origins.”
Swamy, who has traveled the United States extensively, published a pictorial book of the 50 States, and met several presidents including Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, said he was honored and humbled to present his work to the historical society, where it could be enjoyed by the people of Chester County for decades to come. He was connected with Senator Dinniman’s office through Mahesh Dalhepalli, a former classmate of his son, who now residents in Exton.
“It truly is a masterpiece and it’s indicative of the growing diversity of our region and of Chester County’s Quaker heritage as a place that is welcoming and accepting of all cultures and beliefs,” Dinniman said.