10 Facts About the Declaration of Independence
1. John Adams refused to celebrate July 4th as Independence Day.
2. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.
3. Richard Henry Lee proposed the bill for Independence.
4. Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the Declaration of Independence alone.
While Jefferson was the primary author, he wasn’t alone in writing the Declaration. The Committee of Five was appointed on June 11, 1776, to draft a formal statement for the colonies’ case for independence. The committee members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.
There were a total of 86 edits to Jefferson’s original draft by the time of its approval on July 4, but the famous Preamble remained untouched.
5. The vote for Independence was not unanimous.
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6. John Dunlap printed hundreds of copies of the Declaration of Independence.
7. It took 442 days for Independence to become an accepted thought.
There were 442 days between the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” fired at Lexington and Concord to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The majority of colonists viewed themselves as British subjects. In fact, when fighting broke out in Massachusetts in April 1775, it was considered a civil dispute. The thought of separation was seen as a radical notion.
This remained true until King George III denounced the colonies in front of Parliament in October of 1775. It was then that American colonists agreed they should become an independent nation, as they felt their rights as British citizens were being denied.
8. It was written for a reason besides announcing our independence.
Many people know the Declaration was written, but most people never question or understand exactly why there was a need for a formal document. The answer is simple yet complex. If the colonies wanted foreign allies to aid them in separation, they first had to legally declare themselves independent of Britain.
It was vital that each of the 13 colonies come together as a single body. A colony by itself wouldn’t be taken seriously by a world power like France, but the Thirteen together as one nation would. This was groundbreaking at the time, as each colony viewed itself as a singular entity, much like the countries of Europe.
9. There are 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.
None of the men who signed the Declaration were Americans, though most of them were born in Colonies. They were all technically British citizens at the time they signed the document. Eight of the signers were born in Britain. Richard Stockton was the only signer to recant his signature after he was captured by British soldiers a few months later.
The last person to sign was Matthew Thornton, who signed it on November 4, 1776. Robert Livingston, one of the Committee of Five members, never signed it, stating it was too soon to declare independence from Britain.
10. There actually is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
June 24, 1826, Monticello
Written in his final letter