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How many people signed the Declaration of Independence? A history lesson on July 4th

On July 4, 1776, the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. The nation's founding document is fittingly named the Declaration of Independence, and it outlines how the then-13 colonies should no longer be subjected to England's colonial rule.

Nearly 250 years later, July 4th has grown beyond its historic origins to symbolize patriotism. Fireworks, barbecues, parades and the red, white and blue of the American flag have become synonymous with the holiday.

Congress made the Fourth of July a federal holiday in 1870. In 1941, the law was amended to make it a paid holiday for federal employees, the History Channel reports. But did you know we could be celebrating America's independence on a different date?

How many people signed the Declaration of Independence?

There were 56 delegates at the Second Continental Congress who signed the Declaration of Independence, according to the National Constitution Center. These men are listed among the nation's "Founding Fathers." Notable names include President John Adams, President Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock.

In particular, Hancock's signature is infamous for its size and legibility so much so that his name has become slang for a signature. If someone asks for your "John Hancock," they're asking you to sign something.

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When was the Declaration of Independence signed?

Despite celebrations taking place on July 4th, a majority of the Continental Congress' delegates voted in favor of independence on July 2, 1776, according to Harvard University. John Adams even considered that date as America's more accurate birthday, reportedly turning down invitations to Fourth of July celebrations in protest, the History Channel reports. Ironically, both Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.

The official document was finalized on July 4th. It took the delegates two days to draft, edit and approve the Declaration of Independence. The final version was sent to printer John Dunlap on July 4, 1776, according to the National Constitution Center. It was read publicly for the first time on July 8 by Colonel John Nixon at what is now Independence Square in Philadelphia.

The Declaration of Independence was not signed, however, until Aug. 2, 1776. Some of these signers were not a part of the original Congress who proposed and approved of the document in early July, historian Herbert Friedenwald reported.

The US Declaration of Independence is on display at Sotheby's in New York on June 25, 2024.

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Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas Jefferson is credited as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. However, his draft was revised by several others in the Congress.

The "Committee of Five" was nominated to draft the Declaration, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. It included Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson was selected to be the main writer because of "his eloquent writing style and reserved manner."

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