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Published February 12, 2012

Beale Treasure Story
Beale's Declaration of Independence and Key Book


The copy of the Declaration of Independence that Beale used to develop his key to cipher No. 2 was very likely taken from a book available to him in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1822. The key book may have been one that he carried with him, or possibly and more likely, one that he purchased or borrowed after arriving in Lynchburg, or even one in Mr. Morriss' personal collection of books kept in a "bureau and bookcase" known to have existed in the Morrisses' household that he was given access to.
It has long been thought by some that Beale also used the Declaration of Independence to develop the key or keys to ciphers No. 1 and No. 3. But instead of using the initial letters of words in the numbered Declaration, so it is said, he used some other variation. In fact, many different alternative numbering schemes have been tried by investigators. For example, keys have been developed by using the final letters of words, the second or third letters of words, numbering by letter rather than by word, numbering every other word or letter, numbering every third or fourth or fifth word or letter, or using any of these techniques but numbering backward instead of forward, all to no avail. To my knowledge, no one has yet produced a decoding of No. 1 or No. 3 using the Declaration of Independence that makes any sense.
Failure to decode cipher No. 1 or cipher No. 3 on the basis of the Declaration has led others to predict that the key or keys to the remaining ciphers were developed by Beale from other, different texts. However, it appears likely that ciphers No. 1 and No. 3 were enciphered using the same key, for two reasons. This would mean that Beale had three ciphers but only two keys. First, Beale would have wanted to avoid a situation wherein Mr. Morriss was able to recover the key to cipher No. 1 and thus be able to decode No. 1 and recover the treasure, but somehow unable to recover the key to No. 3 and thus be prevented from decoding No. 3 and distributing the treasure to its rightful heirs. Second, statistical evidence indicates that if ciphers No. 1 and No. 3 are genuine, then they were enciphered using the same key (see BTS II, Chapter 6 "Computer Analysis of B1 and B3").
Hence, if No. 1 and No. 3 are based on a book cipher, as some suspect, it means that Beale most likely developed his key to No. 1 and No. 3 from a text taken from a book. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Declaration of Independence and the key text used to develop the key to No. 1 and No. 3 were taken from different books. Indeed, both texts could (I say could) have been taken from the same book. In fact, Nicholas Trist, who was sent by President Polk to Mexico in 1847 to negotiate a treaty of peace with the Mexican government, developed two different book ciphers in order to communicate with Secretary of State, James Buchanan. The keys to Trist's two ciphers were based on two different key texts. But the two texts were taken from the same book, not different books. Beale may have followed the same course, in which case searching for a book containing a copy of the Declaration of Independence printed prior to 1823 might be the "shortcut" that allows us to eventually locate the key text to ciphers No. 1 and No. 3.
Because of my interest in the Beale treasure story, I began collecting books that printed the Declaration of Independence. Eventually, I limited the collection to works printed prior to 1826 ("The first fifty years"). Over a period of nearly 30 years, I assembled a sizable collection. In 2009, I entered and won the AbeBooks.com sponsored WIN A BOOKSELLER essay contest. The essay, entitled Declaration of Independence Collection, described my book collection and my collecting experience.
That same year, I published a book entitled DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: A Checklist of Books, Pamphlets, and Periodicals Printing the U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776–1825 (2009). You can read more about the book by visiting my website at USDeclarationOfIndependence.com, where you can download a free pdf copy of the book. There are a number of interesting facts that were learned as a result of the research for the book, and this information can be found in the preface to the book.
As part of my research for the book, I obtained a copy of the Declaration of Independence printed in each of the 358 different works cited in the checklist. The wording in each of the different Declarations was examined and compared against Beale's partially reconstructed Declaration which was prepared from Beale's decoded cipher No. 2. Beale's Declaration was found to be consistent with 26 of the 321 Declarations in the checklist printed before 1823 (all books). It is highly likely that one of these 26 books was used by Beale to develop his key to cipher No. 2. That book may also contain the missing key text to ciphers No. 1 and No. 3. A list of the titles of these 26 books is given in BTS I, Appendix 12.
BTS I  : Beale Treasure Story: The Hoax Theory Deflated (2011).
BTS II : Beale Treasure Story: New Insights (2011).