The Declaration of Independence: Author, When Was It Signed, Who Wrote it, and 5 Interesting Facts to Know
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Declaration of Independence

Had a hard time staying awake in high school history class? Need to sound smart at a party? Aren’t even an American in the first place and so never needed to know? If you’re lacking info on the most important document in the history of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, then you’ve come to the right place. No excessive Google searches for terms like “author of Declaration of Independence” needed; we’ll answer all your questions ranging from “When was the Declaration of Independence signed?” to “Who is considered the author of the Declaration of Independence?” to “Who signed the Declaration of Independence?” Below you’ll find five facts about the piece of paper that made the U.S. a country, ranging from the possibly obvious to the shockingly obscure.

Who Is Considered the Author of the Declaration of Independence?

The acknowledged author of the Declaration of Independence text is Thomas Jefferson. However, he was among five people originally appointed to create it. The others were Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and John Adams. Jefferson alone was given the job of writing up the first draft, on which he worked for over two weeks. Adams and Franklin would make revisions to the original draft, and Congress would add more later.

Who Signed the Declaration of Independence?

There are 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, all of whom are men. There was a difference of 44 years between the youngest man to sign it—26-year-old Edward Rutledge—and the oldest—Benjamin Franklin, who was 80 at the time. One signer, Richard Stockton, would later take back his signature after he was captured and mistreated by the British and swore loyalty to King George III in return for his release. He’d later reaffirm loyalty to the U.S. The person most famous for the actual act of signing the Declaration is likely John Hancock, the President of Congress at the time, whose elaborate signature has caused his name to be a synonym for anyone signing their name on a document.

When Was the Declaration of Independence Signed?

While you were likely brought up to believe that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, this is actually incorrect. In truth, July 4 is simply the day the document was adopted by Congress after it was drafted over the course of the previous two days. In truth, the people who signed it did not put pen to paper until about a month later due to various reasons, including New York waiting for authorization to vote for independence and the Declaration of Independence itself taking an additional two weeks to be written clearly on parchment, making it “engrossed.” Most of the signings were on August 2, with several coming even later than that.

Who Wrote the Words on the Back of the Declaration of Independence?

While there are many famous Declaration of Independence quotes taken from the document, the words written on the back aren’t exactly quotable. On the reverse side of the document, upside-down and across the bottom, are the words “Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776.” What’s interesting about that line, aside from it reading like someone tried to claim a copyright on the Declaration of Independence, is that nobody knows who added this line and when, though the popular theory is that it happened during the Revolutionary War to help identify the rolled-up piece of paper when it was moved.

Is There More than One Copy of the Declaration of Independence?

Technically, yes. After the Declaration of Independence text was approved, it was taken to Philadelphia printer John Dunlap to reproduce, and these copies were sent to all 13 colonies, specifically addressed to newspapers, commanders, and local officials. Called the “Dunlap broadsides,” these reproductions are actually older than the version we know and love but are not engrossed as the “main” Declaration of Independence is and lack the 56 signatures.

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