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4 Surprising Facts About the Declaration of Independence

Posted by Justin on

Every American knows about the Declaration of Independence… Or do they?

In truth, there are lots of oversimplifications and flat-out falsehoods that circulate in our national history books.

Let's take a look at 4 surprising facts about the Declaration of Independence you probably never knew:

4. Its Signing Date Was Actually July 2nd, 1776

For starters, the fact that we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th is due to a date mix-up. In fact, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 2nd, 1776.

So why do we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day? That’s because the Continental Congress adopted the edits to the Declaration of Independence on that day, as opposed to July 2nd.

Interestingly, John Adams thought that July 2 would be the national holiday. He was so irritated by the fact that most Americans preferred July 4 that he refused to celebrate Independence Day on the fourth along with them!

3. Jefferson Didn’t Write the Declaration Alone

Most pop-culture history tells you that Thomas Jefferson was the brilliant man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. While this is technically true, as Jefferson was the primary author, the Declaration was actually written by several men called the Committee of Five.

This committee included John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. All five men together drafted the primary document and then made a total of 86 edits, which were completed in time for the above-mentioned July 4th signing date.

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2. No Unanimous Vote

We’re also taught as kids that the Declaration of Independence was such a revolutionary document (and it was, don’t get us wrong) that the Continental Congress unanimously agreed to its ideas. Then the states all agreed to pitch in and fight the Revolutionary War, right?

Wrong. In fact, only 12 colonies adopted the declaration on July 2nd. The number dropped to only nine colonies on July 4th! Pennsylvania and South Carolina both voted no, while Delaware was an undecided vote and New York abstained entirely.

Still, the new nation eventually won its freedom from the British Empire and the states came around during the Revolutionary War.

1. Only Six Declaration Signers Also Signed the Constitution

Many Americans reasonably but mistakenly believe that the people who signed the Declaration of Independence also signed the Constitution. But this isn't the case. 

In fact, only six signers of the Declaration of Independence signed the United States Constitution. These included Ben Franklin, James Wilson, George Read, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, and George Clymer.

This is because the two groups who came together for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were largely comprised of different people. You have to remember that the Declaration was drafted and signed at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, while the Constitution came many years later, after the new United States had already tried and decided to replace the Articles of Confederation.

All in all, it’s interesting to see the differences and fascinating bits of obscure information hidden in our country’s history when you dive deeper than what elementary school history books teach!

Thank you for reading, stay strong patriots. 

 Justin | FamTeeWorld
Maine, USA

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