By Liam Martin

BOSTON (CBS) – On this 4th of July you can see an original copy of the Declaration of Independence right here in Boston.  And that’s not all.  On Independence Day, you have the chance to get up close and personal to other tangible pieces of history.  It’s an opportunity to go beyond the fireworks and hot dogs.

“I’m very fond of saying the history of Massachusetts is the history of America, and tomorrow we’ll prove it,” says Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin.

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He’s talking about a special exhibit at the Commonwealth Museum which is operated by Galvin’s office.

“We’ll have on display an original of the Declaration of Independence, one of the 14 original copies,” he says.  It’s the document that explains the ideals and goals of a new nation, the foundation of American democracy.

“This is a letter from Gen. George Washington,” says museum executive director Michael Comeau, showing us the letter dated July 9th, 1776, just 5 days after the Declaration was ratified.

The future first president wrote it to Massachusetts leaders arguing that the British will never accept American independence without a fight.

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“We poked the bear, basically, and he’s going to need some help.  And he’s asking for some troops.  He’s been empowered by Congress to ask for 3 regiments of troops from Massachusetts,” says Comeau.

Another part of the display is the first treaty made by the new United States, signed in Watertown, MA.

It created an alliance with 2 Native American tribes against the British.  “The nation really did begin in 1776, and it’s really what we’re celebrating,” says Secretary Galvin.

The museum also has extensive exhibits tracing the history of Massachusetts and the Commonwealth’s role in founding the nation.

“It’s something that we should remember, the history of it, and what people gave up in the past to accomplish what we have today, and what we’re called to do to keep it for the future,” he adds.

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The Commonwealth Museum is located on Columbia Point, next to the JFK Library.  It will be open on the Fourth of July from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s free, and air conditioned.