History of the Signing
You may have heard some of the famous lines from the Declaration of Independence, but do you know the tumultuous history behind the signing of the significant document?
In 1776, a five man committee comprised of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston were tasked with drafting a document that would officially declare the 13 colonies’ independence from King George III’s rule. With Jefferson having penned the first draft, the committee presented a draft to Congress on June 28, 1776. It is this moment in time that is depicted in John Trumbull’s famed painting “The Declaration of Independence”.
Revisions were made to the declaration over the following days. On July 2, 1776, a vote held among the delegates of each colony determined that the colonies would sever ties with Great Britain. The final draft of the Declaration was then printed to paper and adopted by the Continental Congress. John Hancock, who was the President of Congress at that time, signed the document on July 4, 1776. It wasn’t until August 2, 1776, that the 56 signers would finally begin to pen their signature on the Declaration of Independence.
At America’s Founding Fathers Exhibit, the passion and determination of those involved in the development and signing of the United States Declaration of Independence is revealed, allowing visitors to feel the intense emotions behind the founding fathers' decision to add their signature and thus risk their lives.
The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, representing the 13 colonies, are:
- Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
- Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean
- Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
- Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
- Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
- New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
- New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
- New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
- North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
- Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
- Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
- South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton
- Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
For more information on each of the signers, head over to our Founding Father Biography page!