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    On this day, the Declaration of Independence is officially signed

    Blog August 02, 2021 by Scott Bomboy

    On this day, the Declaration of Independence is officially signed

    August 2, 1776, is one of the most important but least celebrated days in American history when 56 members of the Second Continental Congress started signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

    Officially, the Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, when it approved a resolution in a unanimous vote.

    After voting on independence on July 2, the group needed to draft a document explaining the move to the public. It had been proposed in draft form by the Committee of Five (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson) and it took two days for the Congress to agree on the edits. Thomas Jefferson was the main author.

    Once the Congress approved the actual Declaration of Independence document on July 4, it was sent to a printer named John Dunlap. About 200 copies of the Dunlap Broadside were printed, with John Hancock’s name printed at the bottom. Today, 26 copies remain. Then on July 8, 1776, Colonel John Nixon of Philadelphia read a printed Declaration of Independence to the public for the first time on what is now called Independence Square.

    Many members of the Continental Congress started to sign an engrossed version of the Declaration on August 2, 1776, in Philadelphia. John Hancock’s famous signature was in the middle, because of his status as President of the Congress. The other delegates signed by state delegation, starting in the upper right column, and then proceeding in five columns, arranged from the northernmost state (New Hampshire) to the southernmost (Georgia).

    Historian Herbert Friedenwald explained in his 1904 study of the Second Continental Congress that the signers on August 2 weren’t necessarily the same delegates at the Congress in early July when the Declaration was proposed and approved.

    “Attempting now to determine the names of some of those who were present on the day officially appointed for signing the engrossed document (August 2), we reach the conclusion that a far greater number than has generally been supposed were not in Philadelphia on that day either,” said Friedenwald, who determined discrepancies between the delegates perceived to sign the document on July 4 and the actual delegates who started signing the Declaration on August 2.

    Friedenwald said there were 49 delegates in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, but only 45 would have been able to sign the document on that day. Seven delegates were absent. New York’s eight-person delegation didn’t vote at the time, while it awaited instructions from home, so it could never have signed a document on July 4, he said.

    Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean, and Matthew Thornton signed the document after August 2, 1776, as well as seven new members of Congress added after July 4. Seven other members of the July 4 meeting never signed the document, Friedenwald said.

    However, the signers’ names weren’t released publicly until early 1777, when Congress allowed the printing of an official copy with the names attached. On January 18, 1777 printer Mary Katherine Goddard’s version printed in Baltimore indicated the delegates “desired to have the same put on record,” and there was a signature from John Hancock authenticating the printing.

    Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.

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    Signing of the United States Declaration of Independence

    Signing of the United States Declaration of Independence

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    Signing of the United States Declaration of Independence

    John Trumbull's 1819 painting, , depicts the five-man drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Second Continental Congress

    Date August 2, 1776

    Venue Independence Hall

    Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Coordinates 39°56′56″N 75°09′00″W / 39.948889°N 75.15°W

    Coordinates: 39°56′56″N 75°09′00″W / 39.948889°N 75.15°W

    Participants Delegates to the Second Continental Congress

    The 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence

    The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence occurred primarily on August 2, 1776, at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, later to become known as Independence Hall. The 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress represented the 13 colonies, 12 of which voted to approve the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The New York delegation abstained because they had not yet received instructions from Albany to vote for independence. The Declaration proclaimed the signatory colonies were now "free and independent States," no longer colonies of the Kingdom of Great Britain and, thus, no longer a part of the British Empire. The signers’ names are grouped by state, with the exception of John Hancock, as President of the Continental Congress; the states are arranged geographically from south to north, with Button Gwinnett from Georgia first, and Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire last.

    The final draft of the Declaration was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, although the date of its signing has long been disputed. Most historians have concluded that it was signed on August 2, 1776, nearly a month after its adoption, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

    Contents

    1 Date of signing 2 List of signers 3 Signer details 4 Legacy 5 See also 6 References 6.1 Citations 6.2 Sources

    Date of signing[edit]

    by Armand-Dumaresq (c. 1873) has been hanging in the White House since the late 1980s

    The Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, with 12 of the 13 colonies voting in favor and New York abstaining. The date that the Declaration was signed has long been the subject of debate. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams all wrote that it was signed by Congress on the day when it was adopted on July 4, 1776.[1] That assertion is seemingly confirmed by the signed copy of the Declaration, which is dated July 4. Additional support for the July 4 date is provided by the , the official public record of the Continental Congress. The proceedings for 1776 were first published in 1777, and the entry for July 4 states that the Declaration was engrossed and signed on that date (the official copy was handwritten).[2]

    In 1796, signer Thomas McKean disputed that the Declaration had been signed on July 4, pointing out that some signers were not present, including several who were not even elected to Congress until after that date.[3] "No person signed it on that day nor for many days after", he wrote.[4] His claim gained support when the were published in 1821.[5] The contained two previously unpublished entries about the Declaration.

    On July 15, New York's delegates got permission from their convention to agree to the Declaration.[6] The entry for July 19 reads:

    Resolved That the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and stile of "The unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America" & that the same when engrossed be signed by every member of Congress.[7]

    The entry for August 2 states:

    The declaration of Independence being engrossed & compared at the table was signed by the Members.[7]

    In 1884, historian Mellen Chamberlain argued that these entries indicated that the famous signed version of the Declaration had been created following the July 19 resolution, and had not been signed by Congress until August 2.[8] Subsequent research has confirmed that many of the signers had not been present in Congress on July 4, and that some delegates may have added their signatures even after August 2.[9] Neither Jefferson nor Adams ever wavered from their belief that the signing ceremony took place on July 4, yet most historians have accepted the argument which David McCullough articulates in his biography of John Adams: "No such scene, with all the delegates present, ever occurred at Philadelphia."[10]

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

    Declaration of Independence (1776)

    EnlargeDownload Link Citation: Engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence, August 2, 1776; Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives. Declaration of Independence, printed by John Dunlap, July 4, 1776, Records of the

    Declaration of Independence (1776)

    EnlargeDownload Link

    Citation: Engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence, August 2, 1776; Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives. Declaration of Independence, printed by John Dunlap, July 4, 1776, Records of the Continental and Confederation, Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group 360; National Archives.

    View All Pages in the National Archives Catalog

    View Transcript

    The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It was engrossed on parchment and on August 2, 1776, delegates began signing it.

    Although the section of the Lee Resolution dealing with independence was not adopted until July 2, Congress appointed on June 10 a committee of five to draft a statement of independence for the colonies. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman, with the actual writing delegated to Jefferson.

    Jefferson drafted the statement between June 11 and 28, submitted drafts to Adams and Franklin who made some changes, and then presented the draft to the Congress following the July 2nd adoption of the independence section of the Lee Resolution. The congressional revision process took all of July 3rd and most of July 4th. Finally, in the afternoon of July 4th, the Declaration was adopted.

    Under the supervision of the Jefferson committee, the approved Declaration was printed on July 5th and a copy was attached to the "rough journal of the Continental Congress for July 4th." These printed copies, bearing only the names of John Hancock, President, and Charles Thomson, secretary, were distributed to state assemblies, conventions, committees of safety, and commanding officers of the Continental troops.

    On July 19th, Congress ordered that the Declaration be engrossed on parchment with a new title, "the unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America," and "that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress." Engrossing is the process of copying an official document in a large hand. The engrosser of the Declaration was probably Timothy Matlock, an assistant to Charles Thomson, secretary to the Congress.

    On August 2nd John Hancock, the President of the Congress, signed the engrossed copy with a bold signature. The other delegates, following custom, signed beginning at the right with the signatures arranged by states from northernmost New Hampshire to southernmost Georgia. Although all delegates were not present on August 2nd, 56 delegates eventually signed the document. Late signers were Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean, and Matthew Thornton, who was unable to place his signature with the other New Hampshire delegates due to a lack of space. Some delegates, including Robert R. Livingston of New York, a member of the drafting committee, never signed the Declaration.

    More information

    Learn what the document says, its meaning, and how it was created on our main Declaration of Independence page. You can even add your name to the Declaration of Independence on our Join the Signers page!

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    Transcript

    Note: The following text is a transcription of the Stone Engraving of the parchment Declaration of Independence (the document on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum.) The spelling and punctuation reflects the original.

    In Congress, July 4, 1776The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    Source : www.archives.gov

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