Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Declaration of Independence: the document that started it all

As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, people are preparing for a long weekend of BBQs, fireworks and fun in the sun. I’ve been thinking how to celebrate the Fourth and its significance in our lives. I decided to write about a document that started it all. The reason we celebrate our country’s independence on July 4: The Declaration of Independence. The British colonies in America declaring independence from Great Britain was the first of its kind and the Declaration of Independence would heavily influence future declarations.

During my research, I found some fascinating facts about the Declaration of Independence:
  • Independence was officially declared on July 2, 1776
  • The Declaration of Independence was commissioned by the Continental Congress. A five man committee was appointed to write this very important document. Those men were Thomas Jefferson, who would become known as the “author,” Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Robert Livingston would later refuse to sign the declaration as he felt it was too soon to declare independence.
  • 8 of the 56 signers were born in Great Britain
  • The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin at 70 and the youngest was Edward Rutledge at 26
  • One signer, Richard Stockton, would later recant his signing of the Declaration and would pledge his allegiance to King George III
  • The Declaration would list 27 grievances against King George III of Great Britain who had ignored the needs and desires of his subjects: the colonies.
  • On July 4, 1776, the final draft of the Declaration was approved and it wasn’t officially signed until August 2, 1776
  • The first public reading of the Declaration was July 8, 1776 in Philadelphia.
  • When news of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, a riot broke out
  • Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, men who helped draft and sign the Declaration of Independence, would die on July 4, 1876, the 50th Anniversary.
  • During WWII, the Declaration as well as the Constitution were moved from public display and held at Fort Knox, Kentucky
  • Of the 200 original printings, only 26 are known to still exist. One sold at auction for $8 million in 2000.
  • There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence. It simply says “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” It is thought to be a label as it was probably rolled up for storage.