Fact of the day: 2nd August

On this day in 1776 the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence took place.

The Declaration became official when Congress voted for it on July 4; signatures of the delegates were not needed to make it official. The handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence that was signed by Congress is dated July 4, 1776.

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The signatures of fifty-six delegates are affixed; however, the exact date each person signed it has long been the subject of debate. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams all wrote that the Declaration had been signed by Congress on July 4.

But in 1796, signer Thomas McKean disputed that the Declaration had been signed on July 4, pointing out that some signers were not then present, including several who were not even elected to Congress until after that date.

According to the 1911 record of events by the U.S. State Department, under Secretary Philander C. Knox, the Declaration was transposed on paper, adopted by the Continental Congress, and signed by John Hancock, President of the Congress, on July 4, 1776.

On August 2, 1776, a parchment paper copy of the Declaration was signed by 56 persons. Many of these signers were not present when the original Declaration was adopted on July 4. One signer, Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire, who was seated in the Continental Congress in November, asked for received the privilege of adding his signature at that time, and signed on November 4, 1776.

On July 4, 1776, Continental Congress President John Hancock’s signature authenticated the United States Declaration of Independence.

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2 thoughts on “Fact of the day: 2nd August

  1. Great post. Signing the declaration on 4 July is one of history’s most common misconceptions. As well, the Second Continental Congress voted in favour of independence on 2 July – it was 4 July that the final language of the declaration was agreed upon. One other interesting factoid is that one signer, Richard Stockton, recinded his signature a few months later after the British captured him.

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