Declaration of Independence Some Common Myths Thought to be True - Myth 13
Myth 13: Declaration of Independence signed of July 4th, 1776

It's a humor12-myth that the declaration was signed on July 4, 1776. The Journals of Continental Congress, which published the names of the signers, led everyone to believe that the declaration was signed. In reality, the signed version of the declaration came up at a later date. Thomas McKean, one of the signers brought to notice that some of the signers were not even elected to Congress on July 4. It brought forth the fact that if the declaration were signed on the 4th of July, Charles Thomson and John Hancock would have been the only two signatories. Hancock and Thomson are believed to have signed the handwritten version, but the historian Julian P. Boyd thought this unlikely.

On July 19, 1776, Congress ordered a copy of the Declaration of Independence to be written in parchment for the delegates to sign. Thomson's clerk, Timothy Matlack produced this copy and titled it, 'The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America'. Many of the delegates (around 34 of them) signed it on August 2, 1776 and some signed it later.

Declaration of Independence

The engrossed copy of the declaration proudly bears the signature of John Hancock, the Congress President then. His signature appears above the other signers. Thomas McKean is believed to be the last person to sign. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were among the other signers of the declaration. Edward Rutledge was the youngest signatory of the Declaration of Independence while the oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin. Thomas McKean, Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott and Lewis Morris were the ones signing late.

Matthew Thornton, one of the late signers had to sign on the lower right of the document due to lack of space. The number of signers was 56. Interestingly, three delegates who were present for the debate never signed the declaration. They were Robert Livingston, John Dickinson and Thomas Lynch. Livingston had returned to New York before the signing that took place on August 2. Dickinson thought the declaration as being premature and did not want to sign. Lynch could not sign the declaration on account of his illness

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