Signing of the Declaration of Independence

The original document was a broadside printing, to detail to the rest of the world why the U.S. felt the need to declare independence. Thomas Jefferson was charged with drafting the document and started work in about June. But events overtook his intention swiftly. The U.S. was no longer considering independence, but actively fighting the British army to preserve it, and the tone of the document took a more general turn, from a statement on the U.S. to one about all people oppressed anywhere.

On this day, August 2, in 1776, almost a month until the July 4 meeting that adopted document, the fifty-six members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.

A possibly apocryphal story has it that after the signing of the document, a member of Congress spoke up that now that the deed was done Congress and the nation at large should “all hang together” against the British. Benjamin Franklin, displaying his trademark humor and wit, replied “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”