As we celebrate Independence Day, the Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents ever written in American history. But, do you know who its authors were?
Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration from June 11 – 28, 1776. But as any good author does, Jefferson sought feedback showing the document to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, who both made revisions. Jefferson presented that draft to Congress on July 3rd and more revisions were made. On July 4, 1776, the delegates met and approved the Declaration and it was sent to John Dunlap’s print shop for printing. That is where our observance of the Fourth of July holiday originates. But the Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4th as many people believe. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, 1776 and several others at an even later date.
Declaration of Independence Fun Facts
- More than one copy exists. On July 5, Dunlap’s printed copies were distributed across the 13 colonies to newspapers, local officials, and the commanders of the Continental troops. Hundreds of these copies were believed to be printed on the evening of July 4 and are known as “Dunlap broadsides”. Only 26 of these survive, and predate the version engrossed on parchment (made from animal skin) signed by the delegates.
- Eight of the 56 signers were born in Britain.
- One signer, Richard Stockton, a lawyer from Princeton, New Jersey later withdrew his support of the revolution.
- Two additional copies have been found in the last 25 years.
- There is something written on the back of the Declaration. But unlike in the movie, National Treasure, it is not a treasure map. What it says is: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” No one knows who wrote this or when.