How Well Do You Know the Declaration of Independence?
Only true history lovers will score 100% on this quiz!
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
The 4th might look a little different this year, but here’s how you can make the most of Independence Day at home.
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. If you’re surprised by this, you won’t believe these other 20 facts you didn’t know about the Fourth of July.
How many copies of the original Declaration exist today?
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!
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.
Which co-author of the Declaration of Independence did not sign it?
A. Thomas Jefferson
B. John Adams
C. Robert Livingston
D. Benjamin Franklin
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.
Who physically wrote the Declaration of Independence?
A. Thomas Jefferson
B. John Adams
C. Robert Livingston
D. Benjamin Franklin
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.
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.
Who was the only Congressman to recant his support for the Declaration?
A. John Hancock
B. William Ellery
C. Arthur Middleton
D. Richard Stockton
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.
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
C. “Original Declaration of Independence dated July 4th 1776”
D. “Created in 1776”
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.
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.
How many sections of the Declaration of Independence are there?