There were 56 men who put quill to parchment during the Summer of Independence in 1776.
On July 2, the Continental Congress voted to declare American independence.
On July 4, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.
But it wasn't until August 2 that the delegates began to sign the official, inscribed document.
Were you aware that 86 changes were made to the draft of the Declaration?
Of course you did - readers of our fine blog are well versed in such matters of history. We have many forgotten founding fathers, Including the ever elusive Button Gwinnett, from Georgia (1732 or 1735-1777):
It also cleared Gwinnett of charges of wrongdoing in the Florida debacle. This infuriated Lachlan McIntosh, who denounced his rival publicly. Gwinnett, following the script of the times, sought satisfaction from McIntosh's attack on the field of honor. Mental Floss: How to win a duel
"They fought [with pistols] at the distance of only 12 feet," the Rev. Goodrich wrote. "Both were severely wounded. The wound of Mr. Gwinnett proved mortal; and on the 27th of May, 1777, in the forty-fifth year of his age, he expired."
Gwinnett's name lives on in suburban Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, and in the value placed by collectors on his signature, the rarest of the Founding Fathers.
Then there is Robert T. Paine:
"He seldom proposed anything, but opposed nearly every measure that was proposed by other people..." said Benjamin Rush, a semi-forgotten Founding Father from Pennsylvania.
Nevertheless, Paine signed the declaration -- one of five Massachusetts men to do so. He went on to become the new state's attorney general, served on the committee that drafted the Massachusetts constitution, and was a founding member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston.
Edward Rutledge was the youngest man to sign the declaration and at the age of 26, and Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at 70. Our country's founding has a rich and complicated history. Max Jones from the Terre Haute Start Tribune has put together something he calls *firecracker history*... How many can you get?
1. Who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence?
2. What signature appearing on the Declaration is much larger than the others?
3. What British king was the subject of the Declaration’s scorn?
4. Which two signers of the Declaration would later become president of the United States?
5. In what city did the Continental Congress meet to draft and sign the Declaration?
6. What issue divided the Continental Congress so bitterly that all references to it had to be stricken from the document in order for unanimous adoption to occur?
7. Who was the oldest signer of the Declaration?
8. Who were the two youngest signers?
9. Who was the last surviving signer? (Hint: He died in 1832.)
10. How many eventual states were represented at the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration?
Jill Lepore, a historian at Harvard, writes: “Beginning even before it was over, the Revolution has been put to wildly varying political purposes.”
Indeed, ever since the last of those revolutionaries we’ve come to call the “Founding Fathers” shuffled off this mortal coil, Americans from across the political spectrum have claimed to be continuing on in their tradition. Saying the Founders would be standing firmly behind one’s ideological preferences is a rich tradition in American politics. Back in the 1820s, Andrew Jackson’s Democratic Republicans insisted they were the true Constitutionalists, as did the Whigs they opposed. Both sides of the Civil War made the claim, as did civil rights crusaders and Southern segregationists.
The Tea Partiers are obviously the latest in this long tradition. Lepore found that their “view of American history bore almost no resemblance” to the one she studies and teaches. “What was curious about the Tea Party’s revolution,” she writes, “was that it wasn’t just kooky history, it was anti-history.” … The Founders were grappling with 18th century problems, and would be bewildered by the debates we’re having today. When people say that the Founders, were they to be reanimated today, would be shocked by this or that policy, keep in mind that what would really stun them is indoor plumbing, horseless carriages and flying machines, not to mention all these women and free black people daring to cast votes in our elections.
Ultimately, the Declaration of Independence got the ball rolling, but it was the Constitution that sealed the deal. It's brilliance was that it allowed for change.
This land is your land, this land is my land From California, to the New York Island From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters This land was made for you and me
As I was walking a ribbon of highway I saw above me an endless skyway I saw below me a golden valley This land was made for you and me
I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts And all around me a voice was sounding This land was made for you and me
The sun comes shining as I was strolling The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling The fog was lifting a voice come chanting This land was made for you and me
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there And that sign said - no tress passin' But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin! Now that side was made for you and me!
In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple Near the relief office - I see my people And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin' If this land's still made for you and me.