5 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

A Modern Villain: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Declaration of Independence

1 The 4th of July is not the anniversary of American Independence. 

On July 2nd 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress voted that the colonies should be independent from the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4th and served the main purpose of explaining why we chose independence. 

2 The Declaration of Independence was not signed on July 4th.

The Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4th 1776 and about 200 copies of the original draft were created that night.  The U.S. State Department account of events claims that the Declaration was signed by John Hancock (President of the 2nd Continental Congress) on July 4th and the rest of the signatures were added after. Most of the 56 other signatures were present on the document by August 2, 1776 but at least one signer, Mathew Thornton, was unable to add his signature until November of that year. 

3 The Syng Inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence was also used at the signing of the Constitution in 1787.

The ink stand used to sign the Declaration of Independence was also used to sign the Constitution of the United States. It is one of four items present during the constitutional convention that still exist today. The other items are the chair Washington sat in, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall itself.

4 The Declaration of Independence was not an original document.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration, admitted that it was "Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." Many ideas in the document are taken from a draft of the preamble of the Constitution of Virginia  (which Jefferson wrote) and George Mason's draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

Other influences include the English Declaration of Rights, John Locke's second treatise on government, and The Law of Nations by Emerich De Vattel. 

 5  George Washington read the Declaration to his soldiers.

General George Washington read the Declaration of Independence to his soldiers in New York. He was hoping that the document would inspire his men to fight and encourage other colonists to join the army. The reading caused a riot in New York and a lead statue of King George was torn down- the lead was melted and used to create musket balls for use against British soldiers.

 

Related:

"4th of July Essentials" + "What I'm Reading (Independence Day Edition)"