10 Facts You Didn’t Know about the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence
All Americans know that the fourth of July is all about fireworks and cooking meat on the grill. But before barbeques, vacations, and light shows in the sky, a manuscript was crafted that would forever change America and the world: The Declaration of Independence. Here are some things you didn’t know:
- The original Declaration of Independence is still in existence and is housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, DC.
- The original document measures 29 ¾ inches by 24 ½ inches.
- Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence between June 11 and June 28, 1776 so that it could be voted on by Congress after a 3 week recess.
- Contrary to the claims made in the movie “National Treasure,” there is actually no secret code on the back of the Declaration of Independence. There is, however, writing – apparently a label that simply reads “Original Declaration of Independence / dated 4th July 1776.”
- The Declaration was a summary of a resolution presented to Congress by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia on June 7, 1776 in which he stated, “That these United Colonies are…free and independent States, that they are absolved from the allegiance to the British Crown…”
- Some big names had a hand in creating the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson (third U.S. president) wrote the initial draft, and it was edited by Benjamin Franklin (prolific writer/publisher/inventor) and John Adams (second U.S. president).
- Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams didn’t agree on everything. In 1782, Franklin argued for the turkey as the national bird. Jefferson and Adams opposed him and suggested the bald eagle.
- Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826, of natural causes, within hours of each other – 50 years to the day since the presentation of the Declaration of Independence.
- Upon signing the document with a huge signature, John Hancock said, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that.”
- Much like military service members do today, the founding fathers put their lives at great peril. The Declaration of Independence closes with:
“For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Profound thanks to our founding fathers and members of the military throughout U.S. history for creating and sustaining America’s right to be free. Here’s to over 230 years of freedom and many more to come.
Sources: ushistory.org, teachamericanhistory.org, birdnote.org