Monday, August 2, 2021

August 2, 1776 - The Signing of the Declaration of Independence

August 2,  1776 - The Signing of the Declaration of Independence.
I thought it was signed,  sealed,  and delivered on July 4 of  '76!
What's this all about?
Timothy Matlack's hand-scripted  (engrossed)  copy
of the Declaration of Independence from August 2.
Well,  it is said that the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence occurred primarily on August 2,  1776 at the Pennsylvania State House,  (now known as Independence Hall)  in Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania. 
The final draft of the Declaration was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4,  although the date of its signing has long been disputed.  Most historians have concluded that it was signed on August 2,  1776,  nearly a month after its adoption,  
According to historian Herbert Friedenwald,  there were 49 delegates in Philadelphia on July 4,  1776,  but only 45 would have been able to sign the document on that day.  Seven delegates were absent.  New York’s eight-person delegation didn’t vote at the time,  while it awaited instructions from home,  so it could never have signed a document on July 4.
August 2 was also the date when the assistant to the secretary of Congress,   Timothy Matlack,  produced a clean scripted copy,  and not on July 4 as is commonly believed by so many,  of which on that famous date only printed copies,  as seen at the bottom of this post,  were produced.
So,  many members of the Continental Congress started to sign the engrossed version of the Declaration on August 2,  1776,  in Philadelphia.  
John Hancock
John Hancock’s famous signature was in the middle, because of his status as President of the Congress.  The other delegates signed by state delegation,  starting in the upper right column,  and then proceeding in five columns,  arranged from the northernmost state  (New Hampshire)  to the southernmost  (Georgia).
Richard Henry Lee,  George Wythe,  Elbridge Gerry,  Oliver Wolcott,  Lewis Morris,  Thomas McKean,  and Matthew Thornton signed the document were not present on August 2,  so they signed after that date in 1776.
However,  the signers’ names weren’t released publicly until early 1777,  when Congress allowed the printing of an official copy with the names attached.  On January 18,  1777 printer Mary Katherine Goddard’s version printed in Baltimore indicated the delegates  “desired to have the same put on record,”  and there was a signature from John Hancock authenticating the printing. 

Now,  for your own knowledge sake,  I present to you a complete list of all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence:

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

Let's jump ahead a few years and spy into the thoughts of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as they converse with each other via letters about times past:
It was on May 27,  1813,   when Jefferson wrote to Adams with somber news:
Benjamin Rush
"Another of our friends of  76 is gone,  my dear Sir,  another of the Co-signers of the independence of our country. and a better man,  than  (Benjamin) Rush,  could not have left us,  more benevolent, more learned,  of finer genius,  or more honest.  we too must go;  and that ere long.  I believe we are under half a dozen at present;   I mean the signers of the Declaration.  yourself,  Gerry,  Carroll, and myself are all I know to be living.  I am the only one South of the Patomac.  is Robert Treat Payne,  or Floyd living?  it is long since I heard of them,  and yet I do not recollect to have heard of their deaths."
From John Adams:  
"I rec'd  yesterday your favour of may 27th.  I lament with you the loss of Rush.  I know of no Character living or dead,  who has done more real good in America.  Robert Treat Paine still lives,  at 83 or 84,  alert drol and witty though deaf.  Floyd I believe,  yet remains,  Paine must be very great;  Philosopher and Christian;  to live under the Afflictions of his Family.
You & I have passed our lives in serious times..."
Serious times indeed!

John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Here is something that I feel is more than a coincidence - Providence,  mayhaps? - concerning these two men:  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams,  both co-writers of the Declaration of Independence,  died on the same day,  date,  and year.  That in itself is remarkable enough.  But their shared passing occurred on July 4,  1826,  50 years to the day of the Declaration's adoption.
Their death signaled the end of the Revolutionary era,  for,  at that point,  there was only one signer left alive,  Charles Carroll,  who lived six more years,  until 1832.
The Spirit of '76

"Another of our friends of  '76 is gone..."
This right here tells you how so very special that year of our Declaration of Independence still was to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that they continued to remember when a long-time friend had passed away,  not in his age,  but of the accomplishment and contribution he made 37 years prior.  Those 56 men who signed that most important of documents had a connection - a relation - unlike we could ever know.
"Another of our friends of  '76~" American heroes...

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read more about the Declaration of Independence through various blog posts I wrote,  please click HERE

My sources for this posting came from a variety of areas, including THIS article
Also from HERE
as well as from

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