Happy 4th of July! Today we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence – but that bit of history is just a little bit wrong. The text of the Declaration was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th – but there was no actual signing ceremony held. In fact, before it was released to the printer for publication, it may have only had 1 signature attached – John Hancock’s as president of the Second Continental Congress. The initial printing of the Declaration numbered about 200 copies by a man named John Dunlap. Those first copies were called Dunlap’s broadside and were distributed/copied throughout the colonies. Today, only 26 of the original Dunlap broadsides still exist.
The copy of the Declaration with the signatures we’re all familiar with is known as the engrossed copy. This copy was written on parchment – most likely by the Congressional clerk Thomas Matlack – and did note have its last signatures affixed until sometime in August 1776.
Want to know more about the Declaration of Independence? Check out the Wikipedia article and the links within it – it is WELL worth your time to read!
No matter what the actual signing date of the Declaration, today we celebrate the 242nd birthday of our nation – HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!