Most people know the basic facts about the Declaration of Independence; but not everyone knows about the men behind this historical document. To do a basic overview of our founding fathers, one would discover they were well educated, soft spoken, God fearing men. They were financially well off and were well aware of the possible consequences of their actions. They knew they were committing treason. But despite their money and security, they valued their liberty most of all.
The Committee Is Formed
To look at a list of possible candidates to draft such a historical document, Thomas Jefferson would not seem the most likely choice. However, two other documents were being drawn up at this time – one to prepare the articles of confederation and one to prepare a treaty that would be proposed to France. Richard Henry Lee – who would have been a more obvious choice - was assigned to the Committee of Confederation. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams received the top votes for the Declaration of Independence Committee. Jefferson had initially requested Adams draft the document, but Adams had strong feelings otherwise. He knew Jefferson was known for his literature but also felt a Virginian (which Jefferson was) should write the document. It took Thomas Jefferson three weeks to draft the Declaration of Independence, after which, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin reviewed and edited the draft. This edited draft was presented to Congress, who made an additional 86 changes to condense the final document.
Signatures on the Declaration of Independence
The most famous signature on the Declaration of Independence is that of John Hancock’s. But why was his signature so significant? John Hancock was President of the Continental Congress at the time of the signing, giving him the distinct privilege of being the first to sign. His signature is the largest on the document and is prominently located in the center of the document.
Each of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had their own reason(s) for signing. Each was well aware of the possible consequences that wait on the other side of their signature. And while some signatures have become more well-known than others, no signature was insignificant. In all, 56 men signed and all 56 stood behind this newly created document that would become the backbone of the United States of America – the Declaration of Independence.