The Declaration of Independence

Alaura Hale, Staff Writer

The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. It was signed by 56 individuals. The signers of the Declaration of Independence did not all sign on the same day. The Committee of Five appointed by the Second Continental Congress drafted what became known as America’s Declaration of Independence. The members of the Committee of Five were: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Benjamin Franklin.

There were 5 signers from Massachusetts, 3 signers from Georgia, 3 from North Carolina, 4 from South Carolina, 4 from Maryland, 7 from Virginia, 9 from Pennsylvania, 3 from Delaware, 5 from New Jersey, 4 from New York, 3 from New Hampshire, 2 from Rhode Island, and 4 from Connecticut.

The men who signed it were John Hancock (president of the Continental Congress), Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton.

Thomas Jefferson created this declaration because in June 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and decided it was time to create a document that declared America’s independence from Great Britain. The document stated the reasons the 13 American colonies wanted to be free of Great Britain’s government. The Declaration of Independence states that the authority to govern belongs to the people, rather than to kings, that all people are created equal and have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not one of the men who signed, were born in America. Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old and the oldest to sign the Declaration. The last man to sign the document was on November 4, 1776, Matthew Thornton, from New Hampshire.

The most famous extract from the Declaration of Independence is: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.