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How Well Do You Know the Declaration of Independence?

Only true history lovers will score 100% on this quiz!

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calendar page flipping sheet close up backgroundKwangmoozaa/Shutterstock

On what day in 1776 did the Continental Congress declare its freedom from Britain?

A. June 4

B. June 30

C. July 4

D. July 2

RELATED: The History of the 4th of July and Why We Celebrate It

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July 2nd. Image of July 2 wooden color calendar on white canvas background. empty space for text pixy_nook/Shutterstock

Answer: D. July 2

If you chose July 4, you might be scratching your head right about now, as you squint both your eyes and wonder whether the editors of this magazine could have somehow forgotten the date of American Independence Day. Don’t worry, we didn’t. What many people don’t know—even those of you who listened attentively during history class and belt the lyrics to Hamilton loudly in your showers—is that the Continental Congress officially declared its independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776.

On July 4, 1776, once the delegates had prepared an explanation to the public, the Declaration of Independence was read in each colony and adopted by Congress. In keeping with the tone of democracy, America now celebrates its independence on the day it was officially declared to the people: July 4.

RELATED: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Independence Day

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United States Declartion of Independence with vintage flag. July 4th.Mike Flippo/Shutterstock

How many copies of the original Declaration exist today?

A. 1

B. 3

C. 12

D. 26

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Letterpress blocksLeigh Prather/Shutterstock

Answer: D. 26

I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t Nicolas Cage steal the only copy of the Declaration of Independence in the movie National Treasure? The short answer is no—and you really shouldn’t believe everything you see on screen.

Originally, Congress ordered 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence from a printer named John Dunlap. On July 5, 1776, these copies were distributed to various assemblies, conventions, committees, and leaders of Continental battalions. However, only 26 of the original copies of the Declaration are still in existence today. The most prominent one lives in the National Archive, where it has been framed, protected, and displayed for public viewing. As for the other 25 copies? When these documents are discovered—and labeled with multi-million dollar price tags—the copies circulate among the highest bidders. In 2000, TV producer Norman Lear purchased a Dunlap copy for $8.14 million—a bit pricier than a history textbook!

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army objectsJannarong/Shutterstock

During which war did the U.S. hide the Declaration of Independence?

A. World War I

B. World War II

C. The Civil War

D. The Vietnam War

RELATED: The Difference Between the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution

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U.S. Navy F4Us, Corsairs, in flight over South Pacific in 1943, during World War 2.Everett Historical/Shutterstock

Answer: B. World War II

Although the Civil War was fought on American soil, leaders of the United States were more fearful for the Declaration’s safety during World War II. Following the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the potential for the Axis powers to bomb the U.S. capitol. Therefore, FDR gave the order for important founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to be secretly relocated.

On December 23, 1941, the documents were removed from their display cases, wrapped in acid-free and neutral packing materials, and secured inside specially designed bronze cases. Under heavy security, the cases were transported to the army base Fort Knox until the end of the war. Got this question right? See if you can answer these tricky U.S. war history questions most people never get right.

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declaration of independenceGlasshouse Images/Shutterstock

Which co-author of the Declaration of Independence did not sign it?

A. Thomas Jefferson

B. John Adams

C. Robert Livingston

D. Benjamin Franklin

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robert livingstonBilwissedition/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Answer: C. Robert Livingston

Talk about a missed opportunity! Robert Livingston was a New York delegate, fervent patriot, and a member of the Committee of Five, which spent days drafting the Declaration of Independence. After countless hours of debating, Livingston was ultimately unable to sign the document. Although Livingston strongly supported the fight for freedom, he refused to sign the document before New York had formally instructed its delegation to do so. When the Declaration was completed—and the members of Congress passed a quill around the historic paper—Livingston returned to New York to seek approval, missing his opportunity to sign. If you answered this question right, test your knowledge of U.S. history with these 16 history questions everyone gets wrong.

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Feather pen, inkwell and blank parchment on wooden tableNew Africa/Shutterstock

Who physically wrote the Declaration of Independence?

A. Thomas Jefferson

B. John Adams

C. Robert Livingston

D. Benjamin Franklin

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thomas jeffersonUniversal History Archive/UIG/Shutterstock

Answer: A. Thomas Jefferson

Most of us can sympathize with the pressure to produce perfection. Remember the grade-school feeling of 20 sets of eyes burning into your back, waiting for you to make a spelling error when the teacher made you take notes on the board? If we multiply this feeling by one million, we can almost understand how Thomas Jefferson must have felt when John Adams tasked him with writing the Declaration of Independence.

In a letter to a friend, John Adams recalled a conversation he had with Jefferson in which they both proposed that each other write the document. Clearly, Adams’s case was more compelling. When the Committee of Five gathered to declare America’s independence, Jefferson held the pen that changed the course of history. Although Jefferson was the leading force behind the document, his signature is actually not the most valuable signature on the Declaration of Independence.

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Geographical view of Boston (Geographical view altered on colors/perspective and focus on the edge. Names can be partial or incomplete)TonelloPhotography/Shutterstock

Which colony rioted when news of the Declaration spread?

A. Virginia

B. Maryland

C. New York

D. Delaware

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The way we looked at New York in 1949.Pontus Edenberg/Shutterstock

Answer: C. New York

On July 9, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud by George Washington in City Hall Park, New York. The call for freedom instantly fueled the crowd’s excitement, inciting a riot to break out on the streets of Broadway. As the crowd energized, it charged down to Bowling Green Park and toppled a statue of King George III. Later, this statue was melted and re-purposed as musket balls for the American army during the Revolutionary War. Interested in historical sites, like Bowling Green Park? These are the 16 best American cities for history buffs.

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declaration of indenpendenceUniversal History Archive/Shutterstock

Who was the only Congressman to recant his support for the Declaration?

A. John Hancock

B. William Ellery

C. Arthur Middleton

D. Richard Stockton

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A closeup of a dimly lit prison holding cell door with gripping the bars - 3D renderInked Pixels/Shutterstock

Answer: D. Richard Stockton

Richard Stockton was once a trailblazing patriot with the honor of signing the Declaration of Independence. However, Stockton later recanted his support for the revolution when he was arrested by British forces at the start of the war. In prison, Stockton faced starvation, cold temperatures, and harsh treatment. After five weeks behind bars, Stockton accepted a pardon from a British general and was released to his family. The one condition of his freedom? Stockton was forced to renounce his allegiance to the revolution and swear his loyalty to the king. Didn’t learn about this detail in history class? Here are 15 facts about America they never taught you in school.

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Old fashioned magnifying glass on a dark wood backgroundEag1eEyes/Shutterstock

 What is written on the back of the Declaration of Independence?

A. The secret location of the treasure that Nicolas Cage hunted in National Treasure

B. “Liberty”

C. “Original Declaration of Independence dated July 4th 1776”

D. “Created in 1776”

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declarationEwing Galloway\Uig/Shutterstock

Answer: C. “Original Declaration of Independence dated July 4th 1776”

No, it’s not the secret location of the treasure that Nicolas Cage has been hunting his whole life—stop thinking about the movie National Treasure! In reality, the words “Original Declaration of Independence dated July 4th 1776” is written upside down on the back of the document. While it is unknown who penned this line, the label helps to ensure that the original copy remains safely in the government’s hands today.

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Hand writing with old quill pen on the old paper. Historical atmosphere. Empty place for a text.FotoDuets/Shutterstock

Who was the oldest person to sign the Declaration of Independence?

A. Benjamin Franklin

B. John Adams

C. Thomas Jefferson

D. George Washington

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benjamin franklinUniversal History Archive/UIG/Shutterstock

Answer: A. Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Conversely, the youngest signer of the document, a South Carolina delegate named Edward Rutledge, was 26 years old. For those of you who don’t enjoy mental math, Franklin was 44 years older than Rutledge. His many years of experience as a political leader is likely the reason Franklin was appointed to help draft the Declaration on the Committee of Five.

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United States Declaration of IndependenceMike Flippo/Shutterstock

How many sections of the Declaration of Independence are there?

A. 3

B. 5

C. 1

D. 6

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Old American flag background for Memorial Day or 4th of July or Dependence DayBaimieng/Shutterstock

Answer: B. 5

Did you know that there are five separate parts of the Declaration of Independence? Well, now you do! These parts include the introduction, the preamble, two body sections, and a conclusion. Think this quiz was hard? Next, see how well you know the Constitutional Amendments!

Carley Lerner
Carley Lerner is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Reader's Digest. She is a member of the Class of 2021 at Duke University, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Chronicle.