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Stolen Bill of Rights Document Travels 137 years into the future at Onset of American Preemptive War

March 19, 2003 - The FBI has recovered a valuable copy of the Bill of Rights that had been missing for 138 years, bureau sources said Wednesday.

The document, one of 14 copies of the Bill of Rights commissioned by President George Washington, is worth an estimated $30 million, the FBI said.

It was stolen from the North Carolina Statehouse by a Union soldier during the Civil War, officials said. "A carpetbagger took it in 1865," said one official. "It's really priceless."

The document was recovered by the FBI in Philadelphia on Tuesday in an undercover operation when an individual attempted to sell it, officials said. The copy is believed to have been in North Carolina in recent years, but officials were uncertain where it had been for most of the past 138 years.

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. It was demanded by many states as a condition to ratifying the Constitution. They were ratified in 1791.


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