- Encounter Sydney: Entering the main room in The National Archives will generate a new objective: defend the rotunda. Super mutants spawn and attack. Fending them off gives the option to get Sydney as a follower.
- Proceed Downward: Make your way past super mutants and robots.
- Speak with Button Gwinnett: Options:
- Obtain the Ink Container in Arlington Library to forge a copy.
- Pass a speech check to convince Gwinnett that you are Thomas Jefferson.
- Kill Gwinnett (Negative Karma)
- Allow Button to remain Active (Positive Karma)
- Order Gwinnett to shut down if you have the Robotics Expert perk.
- Grab the document.
- Return to Washington to receive payment.
Acquiring the quest
Talk to Abraham Washington in Rivet City or go directly to the National Archives and enter the rotunda on the first floor.
If you help her by fending off the super mutants, you can take her on as a companion through the end of the quest.
When Sydney is your companion, you can ask her at any time whether she has been hurt. If she says yes, you have the further option of giving her a stimpak, which she will use immediately.
If you decline to take her on as a companion, Sydney might appear later in a random encounter, "Seeking revenge for declining her offer".
Sydney can be completely avoided. By entering the backdoor of the The National Archives, one can bypass the rotunda and retrieve the Declaration of Independence. Upon returning to the Rotunda, Sydney will not be there. The mini quest to defend the Rotunda is still triggered however. Alternatively, if you go to the Eastern door in the room with the terminals (before the Rotunda) you can also skip the defend the rotunda miniquest.
If you take Sydney with you, she will tell you that she has hacked a secret elevator that will get you very close to the Declaration's location. Interact with the computer terminal where you found her, which will trigger a secret elevator to appear in front of you. This will drop you into the Secure Wing of the The National Archives. Head north and you will have to fight/sneak past a number of robots. In the first room is a broken door that is automatically repaired with Science better than 67%. In this room is the power generator for the turrets guarding the various documents (Sydney will point this out to you if she is with you). There are several Hard and Very Hard Locked Doors and significant gas leaks.
The longer way in
If you don't take Sydney's help, or if you just want a longer quest, forget about the secret elevator and take the long way to the Declaration.
On the first floor of The National Archives there are booby traps and super mutants. In one of the big rooms you'll find double wooden doors under an exit sign. That will be labeled as the Archives Stronghold and will actually be an elevator that will take you to the stronghold with a computer terminal and a bunch of robot containers and computer terminals next to them. You can use the computer terminal to unlock all the security doors.
Encountering Button Gwinnett
Regardless of which path you choose, There will be a bunch of Mister Gutsy, Sentry, and Mark IV turrets below that are hostile. You'll eventually be approached by a robot that has been programmed as the second signer of the declaration Button Gwinnett. At this point you can either:
- Kill Gwinnett and have to fight off many more robots.
- Agree to help Gwinnett by forging the Declaration of Independence with supplies from Arlington Public Library (aka "trick the Redcoats"). Once you give the ink container to Gwinnett, he will create a forgery for you to give to Abraham Washington. If you tell him to continue to guard the document or do whatever he likes, he will remain active and you will gain Karma. You can still take the genuine Declaration and turn both into Abraham. (The ink in question is in a metal box on a table towards the back of the room marked 'Restoration Supplies'.)
- Convincing Gwinnett you are Thomas Jefferson through a speech challenge, which will allow you to simply grab the Declaration and leave without having to do anything more. However he will deactivate himself, after which you can kill him without Karma loss or turrets turning hostile.
- Order Gwinnett to shut down if you have the Robotics Expert perk.
At this point you either have the real Declaration of Independence, a copy of it, or both.
To get out, you can…
- Go back the way you came, perhaps using the secret elevator again.
- Go through the Utility Door to the left of Button (which leads to a room with protectron containers) and then to the main floor.
- Fight your way back up the stairs. If you killed Button Gwinnett, there will be a bunch of robots trying to stop you.
- On your way up you can find the The Bill of Rights on one of the floors in the fenced off area with a safe inside (next to a Lying, Congressional Style). You can also find the Magna Carta directly across from where you found The Bill of Rights. The fenced off area is protected by two average locked doors, and two Mark IV turrets. Both can be sold to Abraham Washington (100 caps for the The Bill of Rights, 75 for the Magna Carta, more with a speech check).
After the delivery of the Declaration of Independence to Abraham Washington talk to Sydney about "So, whatever happened to your father?". Previously this dialog path was closed as she did not trust you. Now she mentions her father and that he used to call her "Little Moonbeam". If you have found her father's body and holotape in the Statesman Hotel, the option to tell her about her father's message will be available. She will reward you with Sydney's 10mm "Ultra" SMG. You can actually exploit this. The choice of asking her about her gun doesn't go away, so when you ask her about it, the option of asking about her father appears again. When you choose it, you can once again give her the message to continue to get rewarded again and again. This is still not fixed as of latest patch.
- Schematics - railway rifle.
- 400 caps if the player declined Sydney's offer, or she did not survive.
- Sydney's 10mm "Ultra" SMG - if player finishes her quest by giving the "My Little Moonbeam" holotape.
- Once you pass the Speech check, Button will also blow himself up if you call him a disgrace to Congress.
- If you choose to retrieve the ink from Arlington Library, after retrieving the forged copy from Button, you will gain access to the safes and the shortcut back to the ground floor of The National Archives.
- This shortcut room contains the pods for the robots, including an inactive "Thomas Jefferson" robot and a backup robot that can have Jefferson's programming transferred to it. As mentioned in some of the computer bulletins, someone has hacked the voice of the robot, replacing it with a radio tuned in to GNR.
- The broadcast is due to a pre-War prank mentioned on some of the terminals in the building, which included swapping the voice software of the protectron with a radio uplink and frequency scanning software. The recall signal does not function, but activating the Shutdown causes it to explode.
- Pick up the real Declaration only if you plan on delivering the real Declaration to Abraham Washington, because he'll take either document (real or fake). If you give Abraham Washington the fake copy, then return for the real thing, you will not be able to drop it (still a quest item), but it's a much better trophy than a bottle of ink. After this, the ink bottle becomes droppable.
- See the Bugs below for more information.
- Completing this quest by returning any form of the declaration to Abraham Washington will make Three Dog of Galaxy News Radio make mention of you in the news ("Huzzah! The time of British oppression is over!).
- Remember to speak with Sydney after delivering the declaration - she does not remain in Rivet City after the quest and will disappear forever instead of going to Underworld if you leave Rivet City without speaking to her.
- If you pass a speech check from Abraham Washington, he will tell you that he already sent a wastelander such as you to recover the Declaration. He continues to say sacrifices must be made to preserve history.
- You can get an extra 100 caps for the Bill of Rights and 75 caps for the Magna Carta. They're in two different safes along the long way in the sub-level. See the loot section above.
- If you select the "This is getting ridiculous." option, you can exit the strongroom and then reenter to continue speaking with Button.
- If you use the same glitch that you use to obtain Colonel Autumn's 10mm pistol and coat, and with 100 lockpick, you can steal the declaration of independence with no Karma loss, and without Button becoming hostile.
- pc For various reasons usually related to Sydney's death (or resurrection by use of console commands) there will be no option to give Abraham Washington the Declaration of Independence. It is possible to complete this quest with Sydney alive or dead by entering a console command setstage 14ea2 100, however the Declaration of Independence will remain in your inventory — you will be unable to sell it, drop it or remove it in any other way, as it is a quest item, though quest items do not actually weigh anything (despite what their weight actually reads). You can, however, remove it using the console command player.removeitem 3a7f 1, or use the command setquestobject 3a7f 0 to remove the "quest item" flag. If instead you have the Forged Declaration use player.removeitem 6b192 1 or setquestobject 6b192 0 correspondingly. If you have the Ink container stuck in your inventory, use the corresponding console commands to remove it from the inventory (player.removeitem 3aa2 1) or remove the "quest item" flag (setquestobject 3aa2 0).
- pc One of the super mutants triggered by defending the Rotunda causes glitches. It hangs out near the front door to the Archives. It is invisible and you apparently cannot harm it, while it cannot harm you either. Companions may successfully kill it, but immediately upon its death the game freezes. Leaving it alive keeps Sydney uncommunicative — she'll just keep telling you that the muties are coming — so you can't take her along on the quest. It is possible to bypass this glitch and continue in the mission by entering the console command setstage 14ea2 50.