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Years ago (late 70's/early 80's) I read a science fiction story which I think was a novel, though I'm not sure. In the story, there was a secret group that had developed technology for travelling between parallel universes. In the multi-verse of the story, there were a great many time lines with alternate US histories and in particular differences in who signed historic documents - I think the Declaration of Independence was the main one, though it could have been the constitution. If I recall the story correctly, there were collectors who trafficked in rare alternate versions of these documents (our version was quite commonplace).

I remember one scene (the first chapter?) in which a historian who specialized in the document in question was visiting the National Archives and reading through it and fainted when he got to the signatures. Someone had substituted a rare version of the document for the actual one from our universe.

Can someone identify the title and author of this story?

  • Sounds a bit like North American Confederacy series by L. Neil Smith, One single word in the Declaration of Independence differs and the US becomes the North American Confederation, a libertarian society. – AidanO Mar 22 '12 at 15:52
  • I'm pretty sure that it isn't L. Neil Smith. That was my original thought for most obvious answer so I went through his writings before asking the question. – Donald.McLean Mar 22 '12 at 16:00
  • Sound like Sliders imdb.com/title/tt0112167 The the dates on this are 1995 - 2000 – Kent Byerley Mar 22 '12 at 21:55
  • I watched every episode of Sliders as they premiered, even after the show had clearly jumped the shark. No, it wasn't Sliders. I'm pretty sure I read it in high school so no later than 1981. – Donald.McLean Mar 23 '12 at 2:37
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I found the name of the story I was looking for. It's called The Whenabouts of Burr and it's written by Michael Kurland.

Someone has taken the original document of the U.S. Constitution and substituted another. The substitute is identical, just as old, and equally authentic -- except it has been signed by Aaron Burr! It contradicts history, but it is real and there for everyone to see! Such a crime calls for out-of-this-world detective work. There must be alternate Americas -- and one of them must be an American union that Burr helped shape. With a few impossible coins, the path is indicated...and the search for THE WHENABOUTS OF BURR begins! It's a hunt through all the alternate-universe Americas that might have been -- with Alexander Hamilton to point the way and Aaron Burr to block it!

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