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The Declaration of Independence - Unique Facts

Updated on July 4, 2016
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Ms.Treadwell is a licensed attorney and the author of "How Do Hurricane Katrina's Winds Blow: Racism in 21st Century New Orleans."

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What is the Declaration of Independence?

The Declaration is arguably the most cherished symbol of liberty in America and around the world. Drafted between June 11 and June 28, 1776, by Thomas Jefferson, the letter set forth a series of grievances against the King of England,George III, which set the stage for the colonies to free themselves from the crown and become a self-governing nation.

A common misconception is the Declaration of Independence is the Supreme Law of the Land, however, it is not. Instead, the Constitution of the United States is the law (ratified thirteen years after the Declaration in 1789); and, it is within the Constitution that Americans have their civil liberties enshrined. The Declaration articulates the ideals of the developing nation. Independence Day, July 4th is the ideal time to reflect and take inventory of whether America is living up to those ideals

Two days before the Declaration was signed, John Adams wrote to his wife of his excitement and hopes for the new nation expressing the importance of the Declaration: “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”[1].

Here are some little known facts about the Declaration of Independence in my top ten style.


The Original Declaration of Independence

The original (above), now exhibited in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in DC, has faded badly largely because of poor preservation techniques during the 19th century. Now it's maintained under the most exacting archival conditions.
The original (above), now exhibited in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in DC, has faded badly largely because of poor preservation techniques during the 19th century. Now it's maintained under the most exacting archival conditions. | Source

Top 10 Unique Facts

1. The physical document has lasted 238 years in part because the text was drafted using iron ball ink, which attaches to the parchment preventing the fading.[2]

2. The Declaration hung in the Library of Congress within a shrine from 1924 until 1952.

3. The first draft of the Declaration contained a denunciation of the African slave trade. Congress made the substantial change to remove it to accommodate slave holding states and to get them to agree to the Declaration.[3] Jefferson, although he was a slave owner, objected to the practice calling it a “cruel war against human nature."[4] John Adams defended Jefferson’s position in the original draft.[5]

4. A five-person committee was established to draft the Declaration of Independence headed by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin[6]; however Jefferson was the main writer. Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston were the other members of the committee.[7] Benjamin Franklin served as the editor of the document.[8]

5. Jefferson adopted John Locke’s philosophy in writing the Declaration. Locke had previously written that man was entitled to life, liberty and property. Jefferson wrote in the Declaration the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”[9]

6. Publisher John Dunlop printed copies which were distributed to the public.[10]

7. Jefferson was only 33 years old when he wrote the Declaration of Independence on a portable writing desk he called his “writing box.” The desk is on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.[11]

8. Jefferson made several copies of the Declaration of Independence one of which is in the archives of the New York Public Library.[12] Twenty-six copies exist with 21 of them in the possession of American institutions.[13]

9. On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died.

10. The back side of the Declaration of Independence reads “Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776."

Inside the Vaults: U.S. National Archives conservator Catherine Nicholson discusses the conservation treatment and re-encasement of the document.

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Bibliography

A & E Networks. "Jefferson Writes the Declaration of Independence." History.com. http://www.history.com/videos/jefferson-writes-declaration-of-independence#jefferson-writes-declaration-of-independence.

A & E Networks. "Thomas Jefferson Biography." Bio. http://www.biography.com/people/thomas-jefferson-9353715?page=2.

Adams, Abigail Smith and John Adams. The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784. Harvard University Press, 1975, 142.

Encyclopaedia Britannica. "The nature and influence of the Declaration of Independence." http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/285012/Declaration-of-Independence/284225/The-nature-and-influence-of-the-Declaration-of-Independence.

Independence Hall Association. "Signers of the Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Franklin." http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/franklin.htm.

Library of Congress. "Thomas Jefferson Declaration of Independence: Right to Institute New Government." http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jeffdec.html.

Monticello.org. "The Story Surrounding Jefferson and the Declaration." http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/story-surrounding-jefferson-and-declaration.

PBS. " Historical Documents: Rough draft of the the Declaration of Independence, 1776." Africans in Ameria. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h33.html.

USHistory.org. "Signers of the Declaration." http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/. Access Date: 7/4/2016.

U.S. National Archives. "The Charters of Freedom: The Declaration of Independence. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_history.html.

By Liza Lugo, J.D.

(c) 2012, Revised 2014, 2016. All Rights Reserved.


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    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very interesting hidden history of the Declaration of Independence.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
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      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 4 years ago from New York, NY

      HSchneider, thank you for taking the time to read this hub. I'm glad you found it interesting.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 2 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Loving this and I'm grateful you put it here, we need more information presented accurately about our founding. It's a true shame that we have had so much revisionism invade our history. I'll take the good, the bad, and the ugly of our history any day as long as it's true. Voting this wayyyyyy up and sharing! Great job lawdoctor.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks so much Kasman! I appreciate you taking the time to read this and comment. The truth is all important for clear understanding.

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