But, as Heritage explains, Independence Day is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called “the declaratory charter of our rights.
A tradition in our household is to read the Declaration of Independence (and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights) every year as a reminder of the freedoms our Founders fought and died for. This holiday is also a great time to reflect on our armed forces, and their families,who give so much in the name of defending the ideals and free institutions we often take for granted.
Some interesting Q&As and factoids about the Declaration of Independence from Archives.gov include…
Questions & Answers
Q. Is anything written on the back of the Declaration of Independence?
A. Yes, there is writing on the back of the original, signed Declaration of Independence. But it is not invisible, nor does it include a map, as the Disney feature film, National Treasure, suggests. The writing on the back reads “Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776,” and it appears on the bottom of the document, upside down.
Q. Is the original Declaration of Independence written on paper?
A. No, the original was engrossed on parchment which is an animal skin specially treated with lime and stretched to create a strong, long-lasting writing support. The printed version is on paper and was read aloud from town squares throughout the colonies, so that those who could not read would receive the news about intended separation from England.
Q. Was Thomas Jefferson the only person involved in writing the Declaration of Independence?
A. Jefferson was the author of the document and was a member of the Committee of Five that was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies case for independence. The committee consisted of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the Middle Colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.
Did You Know…
- the Declaration of Independence was adopted by 12 of 13 colonies (New York not voting) on July 4, 1776, but wasn’t actually signed by all the delegates until August 2, 1776.
- John Hancock, the President of the Congress, was the first to sign the sheet of parchment measuring 24¼ by 29¾ inches.
- the Declaration of Independence is housed in a specially sealed encasement containing the inert gas argon with a controlled amount of humidity to keep the parchment flexible. The encasement is constructed of ballistically resistant materials. The document is closely guarded.
- If you were a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1776, you were a rebel and considered a traitor by the King of England. You knew that a reward had been posted for the capture of certain prominent rebel leaders and signing your name to the Declaration meant that you pledged your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of freedom.
- Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Committee of Five died on July 4, 1826. And John Adams, also a committee member, died on the same day.
Read more on Archives.gov … and we hope you and yours have a fun, safe Independence Day holiday! j & B