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One of the myths surrounding the Declaration of Independence involves the signing


One of the myths surrounding the Declaration of Independence involves the signing

The Signing

One of the myths surrounding the Declaration of Independence involves the signing. It was not signed on July 4th by anyone except John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson, the secretary to congress. They signed the working copy which was then sent to the printer, John Dunlap.

The rest of the Signers did not have the opportunity to add their names until August when the engrossed copy was ready. The Committee of Five hired Timothy Matlack, a Philadelphian who was well known for his excellent penmanship, to hand write the Declaration. On August 2, 1776 it was ready.

One tradition which is correct was the John Hancock stepped forward to be the first to sign it. Another tradition has it that afterwards Hancock explained the reason for the size of his signature saying, “so that fat King George can read it without his glasses.” The remaining members of congress took turns signing by geographical order beginning with New England and working south to Georgia. Having finally received orders, even the members from New York were able to sign though their state had abstained from the vote on independence. A few men were absent from congress during the signing and so had to add their names at a later date. Some of those could not find room to sign with the others from their state. A few who voted for independence never had the opportunity to sign while others who were not present for the vote requested and received permission to affix their signatures.

One thing that is not a myth is that these men were committing treason, a crime punishable by death. 

The following is a list of the signers in the order that they added their names. How many are you familiar with? How many people are willing to take the time to learn about them?

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton 

Column 2

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Column 3

Massachusetts: John Hancock
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Column 4

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Column 5

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Column 6

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple
Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton

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