Interesting Facts

  • The Declaration of Independence was adopted by 12 of 13 colonies (New York not voting) on July 4, 1776, but wasn't actually signed by all the delegates until August 2, 1776.
  • Engrossing is the process of preparing an official document in a large, clear hand. Timothy Matlack, a Pennsylvanian who had assisted the Secretary of the Congress, Charles Thomson, was probably the engrosser of the Declaration.
  • John Hancock, the President of the Congress, was the first to sign the sheet of parchment measuring 24¼ by 29¾ inches.
  • A handprint appears on the bottom left corner of the Declaration of Independence. The origins and circumstances of the handprint are not known. The document was handled, rolled, and traveled about and exhibited extensively in its early life. Attempting to clean the handprint and other soil that has worked into the parchment could damage the fragile document.
  • The official title of the head of the National Archives and Records Administration is Archivist of the United States.
  • The Declaration of Independence is housed in a specially sealed encasement containing the inert gas argon with a controlled amount of humidity to keep the parchment flexible. The encasement is constructed of ballistically resistant materials. The document is closely guarded.
  • The movie National Treasure was not filmed inside the National Archives Building. A reproduction of the Declaration of Independence was used in filming the movie.
  • In the Rotunda, above the Charters of Freedom, the murals by Barry Faulkner have been removed, cleaned, and restored. Although they don't depict actual historical events, they help convey the importance of the Charters of Freedom by showing a presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to John Hancock by Jefferson in 1776 and a presentation of the Constitution to George Washington by Madison in 1787.
  • You can purchase a 24 ¼ x 37 ½ inch copy of the Declaration of Independence from NARA. Please telephone our sales desk during normal business hours at 1-866-272-6272 and ask for Item 6312.
  • If you were a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1776, you were a rebel and considered a traitor by the King of England. You knew that a reward had been posted for the capture of certain prominent rebel leaders and signing your name to the Declaration meant that you pledged your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of freedom.
  • Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Committee of Five died on July 4, 1826. And John Adams, also a committee member, died on the same day.
  • The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—known collectively as the Charters of Freedom, were removed from display on July 5, 2001, and have undergone long-planned conservation treatmentrenovated Rotunda was rededicated, and the newly re-encased Charters of Freedom were unveiled.

Courtesy: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

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