Ten Surprising Facts about Independence Day
By Jane Hampton Cook
Thomas Jefferson was the “new guy” in town when he wrote the
had never attended the Continental Congress until 1776. John
Adams picked this 30-year-old county boy for two reasons:
Jefferson’s writing style was frank and full of flourishes and
he was from
, a smart move uniting the South for
Debating the Declaration was a rush job.
The Continental Congress was in such a hurry to see
’s first draft, that they used his handwritten copy to debate,
not waiting to get it printed as they had done with other
Humor kept Thomas Jefferson calm. The three-day debate over the Declaration was so
intense that Benjamin Franklin told an anguished Thomas
Jefferson funny stories and jokes to keep him calm while
Congress criticized his work.
King George III was a terrorist. The most famous phrase from the Declaration of
Independence is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness” but the Declaration documents more than 25 “bad
acts” by tyrant and terrorist King George III, such as
kidnapping Americans and hiring foreigners to fight against
They melted his royal likeness. Some patriots were so excited after the first public
reading of the Declaration in Manhattan, that they pulled down a
statue of King George III (at Broadway and the Bowling Green) on
July 9, 1776, and melted “his royal likeness” into 42,000
musket balls—the first of many New York “fireworks” to
The Declaration was not truly unanimous.
Congress counted the votes by colonies not by delegates, with
each state getting one vote. Hence, the Declaration was
“unanimous” without every delegate supporting it.
Signing the Declaration was the same as signing a death warrant.
The Declaration’s signers knew
they had earned a spot on the King’s most-wanted list,
prompting Benjamin Franklin to say, “We must all hang
together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
The Declaration is why we have states and not colonies.
Shortly after the Declaration, Samuel Adams found himself
correcting his terminology in his letters, scratching out
“colonies” and replacing them with “states.”
Poor manners kept the war going. Not long after the Declaration, a British General
sent George Washington a deal. But, the letter addressed
as an ordinary citizen and not as “His Excellency”—proper
manners for recognizing a legitimate leader of a independent
power. A perceptive
refused the deal. It was a ruse.
The King’s New Year’s Resolution was Dependence, not
George III’s New Year’s Resolution was “independence can
never be possible.” After the war, he told John Adams he was
the last in
to consent to separation. The Prime Minister and Parliament
compelled the king to accept it in the end.
Hampton Cook, janecook.com, is the author of Stories
of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War, a 365-day
digest with personal writings from about 20 key players in the
Revolutionary War. She is a former webmaster to President George
W. Bush. Ms. Cook resides in Vienna, Va.