The declaration of independence is a document that changed the course of U.S history forever. In the year 1776, the continental congress declared the independence of 13 US countries from Great Britain. To quote Abraham Lincoln, he called the declaration “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.
The same documents inspire Americans to always fight for freedom and equality. Here are 27 facts about the declaration of independence most people don’t know.
If you love any and every country’s history, check out this post based on 301+ facts on history.
Still a ton of facts remain unknown about the declaration since the congress put pen to paper. And since its approval on the 4th of July 1776, the facts have been watered down. But this is your reminder and a bit of a history lesson on points that you should know and some facts that you may have never heard about the Declaration of Independence that may surprise you
Although the documents were adopted on the 4th of July, many signers only signed them by August. One reason was that New York delegates only received an authorization on 9th July. The declaration took approximately two weeks to be re-written in clear handwriting.
Many people believe that Thomas Jefferson was the sole writer of the documents, but it required the effort of five writers to complete the declaration. Thomas Jefferson was the primary author, but John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman were all included in the writer’s committee.
All forms of documentation are rarely perfect the first time you write it, and it was no different for the Declaration of Independence. Although Jefferson created the original draft, tons of edits ensued before the Declaration Of Independence came into existence as we know it today. It took a whopping 86 edits before the documents were finally approved, signed, and made public.
Although it has become a public holiday, the Fourth Of July celebration had to wait a few years before it was acknowledged by the extended public. The main reason for this delay was the fued between John Adam’s Federalists and Thomas Jefferson’s Republicans.
The two parties disagreed on the signing of the declaration. But it started to be celebrated more after the Federalists exited the political scene around 1812.
Did you know that the Declaration of Independence hides a small but very cool detail? There is a ‘not-so hidden’ message that you can see behind the document. However, it is upside down, but the statement reads, “Original Declaration Of Independence Dated 4th July 1776”.
It doesn’t mean anything but serves as a label or stamp and a reminder of when it came into existence.
The US Constitution was signed by 39 people, while the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56. However, only six people had agreed to sign both documents. The six congressmen who agreed with both were Benjamin Franklin, George Read, James Wilson, Roger Sherman, George Clymer, and Robert Morris.
Out of all the 56 signatures that you can see on the Declaration of Independence, the first signature on the document came from John Hancock. He signed it on 4th July 1776 when he was the president of the Second Continental Congress.
The idea of independence was first accepted on 2nd July 1776 by the Continental Congress. That means that the concept of independence was accepted but not yet agreed upon by all congress members. For the next two days, the document’s content was discussed, changed, and then accepted by the 12 representatives of each state. Finally, after 11 Days, New York had agreed on the declaration’s content.
Richard Henry Lee is the person that gave congress the idea of going independent. He is one of the United States’ founding fathers, named Richard Henry Lee, He went to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on 7th June and asked the congress to consider independence from Great Britain.
The primary writer of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson, used another author’s book to draw inspiration for the statement. The book’s main topic was based on civil government, detailing political theories written by an English philosopher and author named John Locke.
On 2nd July, 12 of the 13 colonies adopted the declaration, while New York restrained from it for the time being. When they decided to vote, only nine out of twelve colonies voted for the idea of independence. The outcome was decided on a majority vote rule, with both South Carolina and Pennsylvania voting no. There was still one undecided vote from Delaware, and eventually, New York voted for the declaration to happen.
When creating the declaration, there were three primary rules that the documents stood for. The first rule was that all men were made equally by God and had the right to liberty, life, and a chance at happiness. Secondly, it states that the government must protect and follow these rights. Lastly, people can revolt against the government if they don’t adhere to these rights.
After the declaration got signed and the rights adopted, congress told people to publish the good news in the papers. Congress also had people read the document aloud around the towns of each colony.
A man named John Dunlap printed approximately 200 copies of the declaration. These copies were then distributed on 5th July 1776 to every colony to spread the word that congress had declared independence. Of all the copies distributed only 26 are known to have survived over hundreds of years.
Out of all the 56 signatures, eight of those signatures came from people who were not born in an American colony. These eight were James Wilson and John Witherspoon from Scotland, Button Gwinnett and Robert Morris from England, George Taylor and Matthew Thornton from Ireland, Francis Lewis from Wales, and James Smith from Northern Ireland.
There was a considerable difference in age among all the declaration’s signers. The age range was from 26 to 70 years old. The youngest signers were two 26-year-old men called Edward Rutledge and Thomas Lynch Jr.
The most senior was Benjamin Franklin at 70 years old. It could also be viewed that a much larger demographic was used so that more generations would have a say in the independence.
Most of the signees had very high qualified jobs during the declaration era. Almost half of the participants were lawyers (25), while doctors, landowners, a few merchants, plantation owners, and farmers made up the rest. Caesar Rodney was the only one of these men who had previous military experience and background. He was both a plantation owner and one of the army’s officers.
Out of all the signers, nine of them, unfortunately, passed away after they declared independence. These signers did not get to celebrate the end of the war and missed the celebration of the declaration after the Americans defeated Great Britain.
One of the signers became a prisoner for the sole reason of participating in the signing of the declaration. Richard Stockton was put behind bars and was starved for months under brutal conditions, solely for signing the declaration.
A total of 17 signers participated in the war. They were either part of the military or the medical team. They were all later imprisoned but were treated as regular prisoners and not as harshly as Richard Stockton. A lot of the members who signed the declaration also had their lands and houses looted and destroyed because of their involvement in the British Empire.
One of the leading members of congress and influential people in the history of America nearly died before winning the war. George Washington and some troops were almost trapped by the British in New York during the revolution. Luckily they found an escape route and crossed the Delaware River. When they got into a safe position, they quickly regrouped and returned to the offensive.
Many colonies and small towns had already declared independence before congress caught wind of it. These locals were a group of laborers, politicians, and judges who wrote their own local declaration of independence. And the sentiments were said to be almost identical to what the document is now.
The first reading of the Declaration of Independence happened on 8th July 1776 took place in Philadelphia. Some people suggest that the Liberty Bell was used as a tool to bring the townspeople together so that the declaration could be announced. But no evidence suggests the idea, as the bell was in a terrible condition during the war.
Signing the declaration was considered treason against the King of England. It was an act that could’ve cost any signer’s life, essentially they were signing their death warrants. If any of the members were caught, the process of killing them was brutal.
It would start with them getting hung until they became unconscious. Then the British waited or slapped their captives until they would regain consciousness and finally beheaded them.
Two of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence ended up becoming the president of the United States. John Adams became the 2nd president of the United States and served as the delegate of Massachusetts for the first and second Continental Congress.
The other signer was Thomas Jefferson, who became the 3rd president. The 1st president, George Washington, did not sign the declaration as he was in New York. He was later on appointed as the Continental Army’s commander in chief.
When the declaration was signed and implemented, America’s population was estimated to be 2.5 million. They have since grown, and now in 2022, they have a population of 330 million all because of the many battles they faced for their independence.
If you liked this article, consider reading more about the history of North America