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How to Understand the History of the Declaration of Independence

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Written by Bill Hanks   

The governmental organization of the United States began in 1776.  It was written between the months of June and July in 1776.  The Declaration of Independence is a formal written explanation, of why the colonies voted on July 2. 1776, to declare independence from England.

It was primarily written by Thomas Jefferson.  The Declaration of Independence was voted on the date of July 2.  However, it wasn't signed until July 4.  This actual date has been questioned down through the years.  Some historians believe that it was actually signed on August 2, 1776.

The Declaration of Independence listed a set of grievances against against King George the III.  It also listed certain natural rights, including the right to revolution.  After the revolution was over, the Declaration was ignored.  Eventually, the idea of human rights, from the second sentence, became very popular among many.

There were fifty-six individuals that signed the Declaration at Independence Hall.  They were from the thirteen original colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  The President of Congress at that time was John Hancock.

Jefferson wrote a four page rough draft and submitted it to a committee of five.  Small changes in the original draft were made.  Then on June 28, it was submitted to Congress by the committee.  This was known as the Fair Copy.  There the document was debated and revised into it's final form.  The Fair Copy was marked up by Secretary Charles Thomson.  This then became the official document.  So there were two documents,  the revised and the Fair Copy.  The Fair Copy was destroyed.  It was either destroyed during the debate and mark up or by the printing press.  Some think, that it was destroyed in accordance with the Secrecy Rule of Congress.

On the night of July 4, John Dunlap, of Philadelphia, published it first as a broadside.  200 copies were printed, of which only 26 survived.  The parchment copy, that was signed by the Congress, is believed to have been hand written by clerk Timothy Matlack.

One of the best unknown secrets, of the Declaration of Independence, is that of a person known as "The Professor."  This mysterious stranger is said to have showed up and give a stirring address to the fearful men present on July 4.  Although his name and origin was unknown, it is assumed that it was Comte de Saint Germain.  Germain was a teacher to Ben Franklin and others.

The Declaration of Independence is now on display at the National Archives in the "Rotunda for Charters of Freedom."  Contrary to many beliefs, there are no secret writings on the back of the Declaration.  The document measures 29 and 3/4 inches by 24 and 1/2 inches.  In it's early years, the document was rolled up for storage.

sources; wikipedia.org

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