Tag: Declaration of Independence

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The Declaration of Independence: Did John Hancock Really Say That about his Signature?—and Other Signing Stories

When we picture the Declaration of Independence, most of us immediately think of the document handwritten on parchment and signed at the bottom by fifty-six members of the Second Continental Congress. Few individuals from the first two generations of Americans shared that view, however. The vast majority of those citizens never saw the Congress’s document, […]

by J. L. Bell
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The Dark and Heroic Histories of Georgia’s Signers

Revolutions are complex multi-sided economic, political, social, and technological events. They begin as conservative movements. As each side fears losing, all of these different interests radicalize but when the struggle is over, as historian Robert Calhoon points out, each side will adopt constructive compromise to find a way to govern together.[1] In the American Revolution […]

by Robert Scott Davis
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Stephen Moylan: More than a War Hero

Serving on George Washington’s staff were many talented young men, including some who became famous later. Alexander Hamilton served on the staff ably for several years; his extraordinary career has earned him a place in theatrical history. Joseph Reed became president of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council, Thomas Mifflin was the first governor of Pennsylvania and […]

by Jeff Dacus
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Analyzing the Founders: A Closer Look at the Signers of Four Founding Documents

Writing about Roger Sherman, the only man to sign our four most important founding documents – the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution – got me wondering why there weren’t more who had done so, and in particular why our most famous Founding Fathers hadn’t. I decided it […]

by Richard J. Werther
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The Scandalous Divorce Case that Influenced the Declaration of Independence

During the hot, humid Philadelphia summer of 1776, the writing of the Declaration of Independence was just another Congressional housekeeping chore which the delegates decided would have to be done to explain to people everywhere why the vote for American independence had just happened. As Thomas Jefferson later described it: “an appeal to the tribunal […]

by John L. Smith, Jr.
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Why God is in the Declaration but not the Constitution

No country venerates its “Founding Fathers” like the United States. Academics, legislators, judges, and ordinary citizens all frequently seek to validate their opinions and policy prescriptions by identifying them with the statesmen who led America to nationhood. It is not surprising, therefore, that debates about the role of religion in the United States are infused […]

by Anthony J. Minna
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Adams vs. Paine: A Critical Debate

There is a tendency today to lump the Founding Fathers together as though somehow they thought alike, acted in unison and actually got along with each other while leading the Revolutionary Cause and founding a new nation. Now that America’s founding is well over two hundred years old, distance brings clarity in understanding the period, […]

by Jett Conner
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Caesar Rodney: An American Character

Signers of the Declaration of Independence are treated with particular reverence in American historical memory. Caesar Rodney, Delaware’s delegate to the Second Continental Congress, is no exception. He is remembered not just for his signature, but also his vote for independence and the mad dash he made to Philadelphia in time to cast it.  His […]

by Janice Hume
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It’s Not All Burgers and Beer

“The day will be most memorable in the history of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever […]

by Pamela Murrow
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Samuel Chase’s Wild Ride

Myth: “In 1776, when Maryland instructed its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote against independence, Chase launched a successful campaign to persuade the Maryland assembly to reverse its position. In the next two days he rode one hundred miles and arrived in Philadelphia just in time to sign the Declaration of Independence.” –American National […]

by Ray Raphael
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Thomas Paine’s Inflated Numbers

Myth: Within months of its publication, 120,000 copies (or 100,000 or 150,000 or 500,000) of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense were sold in the rebellious colonies. Busted: Although the pamphlet circulated widely and certainly made its mark, only scant print records and no sales records survive, so we simply do not know how many copies were […]

by Ray Raphael
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Jefferson and the Declaration

Myth: Thomas Jefferson found the ideas for the Declaration of Independence “from deep within himself.” (Joseph Ellis, American Sphinx.) Busted: Not according to Jefferson. The “the object of the Declaration of Independence,” he wrote, was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had […]

by Ray Raphael
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The Greatest Scoop of All Time?

History is one giant game of telephone with information passed, often through multiple sources, to the present day. As such, it is full of myths, exaggerations and inventions that are promulgated online, in history books, by word of mouth and via the media.  That is why educators place such great emphasis on the research and […]

by Todd Andrlik