And On July 5?

Things Weren’t Quite Finished

Posted: July 5, 2013

Today, many Americans are extending their celebration of the 4th of July holiday into a long weekend by adding a day of vacation to yesterday’s holiday marking the 237th birthday of the United States of America.

In the aftermath of nationwide picnics and parades celebrating the adoption by the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, we thought it might be instructive to remind readers of what happened in the days after this historic event.

For that,
we turn  to the U.S. National Archives and Record administration, from which we gather the following timeline  for what happened next:
“July 5, 1776

“Copies of the Declaration Dispatched

“On the morning of the July 5, copies printed by John Dunlap were dispatched by members of Congress to various committees, assemblies, and to the commanders of the Continental troops.

“(On July 9, the action of Congress was officially approved by the NY Convention.)

“July 19, 1776

“Congress Orders the Declaration Engrossed on Parchment

“Congress ordered that the Declaration be “fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and stile sic} of ‘The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America’ and that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress.”

“August 2, 1776

“Declaration Signed

“The document was signed by most of the members on August 2. George Wythe signed on August 27. On September 4, Richard Henry Lee, Elbridge Gerry, and Oliver Wilcott signed. Matthew Thornton signed on November 19, and Thomas McKean signed in 1781.”

The timeline above debunks the thought held by many Americans that all of the signers to the original Declaration of Independence did so on July 4, 1776. While it is widely believed that the infamous signature of John Hancock was affixed to the document that day, most historians now accept a version of the account above regarding the entirety of the 56 signers.

The original Declaration of Independence is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and we recommend a trip to view it, especially for those who planned a White House tour and must make alternate plans in our nation’s capital this summer.


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