Highlights of Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July is upon us and I wanted to share some independent facts that many Americans may not have learned in history books or in their classrooms.*

The Declaration of Independence was first printed in a German-speaking newspaper and not an English one. The Colony of Pennsylvania had a large German population and when people of what became the Keystone State voted on which language to use, German lost by only one vote.

Thomas Jefferson finished writing the document within three weeks at the Graff House at 7th and Market streets in Philadelphia. Initially the famous phrase for “inalienable rights” included the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. “Property” was what the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke suggested nearly a hundred years earlier in his treatise on government, but Jefferson and Philadelphia resident Ben Franklin both suggested the more upbeat term of “happiness.”

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The oldest signer of the Declaration was Franklin, who was 70 years old. He also took part in helping to frame the Constitution written more than 11 years later. The youngest was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge. A lawyer from South Carolina.

When the document was read by the commander of the Continental forces in New York City, a raucous crowd cheered George Washington and later tore down a statue of King George III which was converted into 42,000 musket balls for the army.

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In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of only a few surviving copies from the original first printing of the Declaration, it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in the year 2000.

Only one-third of the colonies supported the rebels  Another third favored the Tories and the remaining third just didn’t give a damn, according to John Adams of Massachusetts and the first vice president. He later became the nation’s second president. That figure has been raised to nearly 40 percent support for the Revolution and only 20 percent for the British Loyalists. The others were either neutral or kept a low profile.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826.

Adams’s last words were ”Thomas Jefferson survives,” according to historical accounts. Jefferson had passed away hours earlier but Adams did not get the text message and he had muttered the words before typhoid overcame him. (Only kidding about the text message!)

* — Contoveros holds a master’s degree in American history

 

8 comments on “Highlights of Declaration of Independence

  1. nitinsingh says:

    Interesting, informative thnx to share this lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Miriam Rodríguez says:

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for this historical information!
    It was really interesting!

    By the way, I want to share that today, July 5th, it was Venezuela’s Independence Day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • contoveros says:

      Miriam,

      Congratulations to your native country. It was the first Spanish colony in South America to declare its independence, according to Wikipedia. Delegates from the first National Constituent Congress voted 40 to 4 to break away from the European country.

      They declared that it was “. . . {B]aneful that a small European nation ruled the great expanses of the Americas!”

      I like to think both Venezuela and the United States kinda got their democratic ideas from a small European country that my father was born in to — Greece.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ken Denski says:

    Thanks for sending this…very interesting! Blessings!

    /s/ Fr. Ken

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

    • contoveros says:

      Thank you, Father.

      I should have mentioned that only one signer of the Declaration of Independence was a Catholic. Charles Carroll of Maryland had the highest formal education of all the signers and was the product of his 17-year Jesuit education in France. He spoke five languages and the longest-lived and last surviving signatory of the Declaration, dying 56 years after the document was signed!

      He was barred from holding office in the colony of Maryland due to his religion but became a US senator when the Constitution was created.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. contoveros says:

    The following messages appeared on Facebook:

    Janet Mather
    And Jefferson not only was a very conflicted man on basic principles, but pulled some really dirty tricks to get elected over John Adams, and they went from being friends to being enemies to eventually back again to friends in later life when they wrote long letters to each other. David McCullough’s book on John Adams is quite fascinating. The part about both of them dying on the 4th of July is pretty spooky!

    Contoveros:
    Not too many people realize how vicious they were to each other with Adams as the Vice President and Jefferson as Secretary of State. They became friends off and on and left a wonderful trail of letters and dispatches for us history buffs to review.

    I believe there was something Divine in them both living until the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence to pass away within hours of each other!
    No coincidence from the Great History Writer of the Cosmos!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow!!!!! This was very interesting!!!!!

    Like

    • contoveros says:

      Thanks my dear.

      I was amazed at the research that turned up the gem of how the colonists in New York got raucous upon hearing George Washington – the head of the new army – read the Declaration of Independence. They toppled down the statue of King George III and then melted it to create musket bullets to use in the Revolutionary War!

      It reminded me of today with the call to tear down Confederate soldiers statues all over our nation. It just shows you that Americans have a long history of altering wrongs from our past!

      Liked by 1 person

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