Signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence

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Declaration of Independence
Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence Homepage
Signers of the Declaration of Independence Homepage

The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence included two future presidents, three vice presidents, and ten members of the United States Congress.
 
Fifty-six delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia signed the United States Declaration of Independence, a proclamation asserting that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. Although the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776, the date of its signing has been disputed. Most historians have concluded that it was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.
 

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Recommended Reading: The Declaration of Independence: The Story Behind America's Founding Document and the Men Who Created It (Hardcover). Description: The fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, the foundation of America's freedom, created a nation and launched a freedom movement the world had never seen. Today it seems inevitable that the thirteen colonies would declare their independence from Britain. And yet in 1776 it was not so. Here is the extraordinary story of drama and daring, sacrifice and selflessness, danger and potential death. The signers concluded their work with a plea for Providential protection and a selfless vow to sacrifice "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Continued below...

Many of them did just that to create a country in which "all men are created equal, . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Award-winning historian Rod Gragg brings to life the drama of 1776 like no other book. The removable artifacts, including a full-size (24-1/4" x 29-1/2") replica of the Declaration of Independence, bring to life the events of 1776 like no other presentation.

 

Recommended Viewing: John Adams (HBO Miniseries) (2008) (501 minutes). Description: Based on David McCullough's bestselling biography, the HBO miniseries John Adams is the furthest thing from a starry-eyed look at America's founding fathers and the brutal path to independence. Adams (Paul Giamatti), second president of the United States, is portrayed as a skilled orator and principled attorney whose preference for justice over anti-English passions earns enemies. But he also gains the esteem of the first national government of the United States, i.e., the Continental Congress, which seeks non-firebrands capable of making a reasoned if powerful case for America's break from England's monarchy. The first thing one notices about John Adams' dramatizations of congress' proceedings, and the fervent pro-independence violence in the streets of Boston and elsewhere, is that America's roots don't look pretty or idealized here. Some horrendous things happen in the name of protest, driving Adams to push the cause of independence in a legitimate effort to get on with a revolutionary war under the command of George Washington. But the process isn't easy: not every one of the 13 colonies-turned-states is ready to incur the wrath of England, and behind-the-scenes negotiations prove as much a part of 18th century congressional sessions as they do today. Continued below...

Besides this peek into a less-romanticized version of the past, John Adams is also a story of the man himself. Adams' frustration at being forgotten or overlooked at critical junctures of America's early development--sent abroad for years instead of helping to draft the U.S. Constitution--is detailed. So is his dismay that the truth of what actually transpired leading to the signing of the Declaration of Independence has been slowly forgotten and replaced by a rosier myth. But above all, John Adams is the story of two key ties: Adams' 54-year marriage to Abigail Adams (Laura Linney), every bit her husband's intellectual equal and anchor, and his difficult, almost symbiotic relationship with Thomas Jefferson (Stephen Dillane) over decades. Giamatti, of course, has to carry much of the drama, and if he doesn't always seem quite believable in the series' first half, he becomes increasingly excellent at the point where an aging Adams becomes bitter over his place in history. Linney is marvelous, as is Dillane, Sarah Polley as daughter Nabby, Danny Huston as cousin Samuel Adams, and above all Tom Wilkinson as a complex but indispensable Ben Franklin.

 

Recommended Reading: John Adams, by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster). From Publishers Weekly: Here a preeminent master of narrative history takes on the most fascinating of our founders to create a benchmark for all Adams biographers. With a keen eye for telling detail and a master storyteller's instinct for human interest, McCullough (Truman; Mornings on Horseback) resurrects the great Federalist (1735-1826), revealing in particular his restrained, sometimes off-putting disposition, as well as his political guile. The events McCullough recounts are well-known, but with his astute marshaling of facts, the author surpasses previous biographers in depicting Adams's years at Harvard, his early public life in Boston and his role in the first Continental Congress, where he helped shape the philosophical basis for the Revolution. McCullough also makes vivid Adams's actions in the second Congress, during which he was the first to propose George Washington to command the new Continental Army. Continued below...

Later on, we see Adams bickering with Tom Paine's plan for government as suggested in Common Sense, helping push through the draft for the Declaration of Independence penned by his longtime friend and frequent rival, Thomas Jefferson, and serving as commissioner to France and envoy to the Court of St. James's. The author is likewise brilliant in portraying Adams's complex relationship with Jefferson, who ousted him from the White House in 1800 and with whom he would share a remarkable death date 26 years later: July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration. (June) Forecast: Joseph Ellis has shown us the Founding Fathers can be bestsellers, and S&S knows it has a winner: first printing is 350,000 copies, and McCullough will go on a 15-city tour; both Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club have taken this book as a selection.

 

Recommended Viewing: The History Channel Presents The Revolution (A&E) (600 minutes). Review: They came of age in a new world amid intoxicating and innovative ideas about human and civil rights diverse economic systems and self-government. In a few short years these men and women would transform themselves into architects of the future through the building of a new nation – “a nation unlike any before.” From the roots of the rebellion and the signing of the Declaration of Independence to victory on the battlefield at Yorktown and the adoption of The United States Constitution, THE REVOLUTION tells the remarkable story of this pivotal era in history. Venturing beyond the conventional list of generals and politicians, THE HISTORY CHANNEL® introduces the full range of individuals who helped shape this great conflict including some of the war’s most influential unsung heroes. Continued below...

Through sweeping cinematic recreations intimate biographical investigations and provocative political military and economic analysis the historic ideas and themes that transformed treasonous acts against the British into noble acts of courage both on and off the battlefield come to life in this dramatic and captivating program. This TEN HOUR DVD Features: History in the Making: The Revolution Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; Interactive Menus; Scene Selections.
 

Recommended Reading: Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation, by Cokie Roberts (Hardcover). Review: In Founding Mothers, Cokie Roberts paid homage to the heroic women whose patriotism and sacrifice helped create a new nation. Now the number one New York Times bestselling author and renowned political commentator—praised in USA Today as a "custodian of time-honored values"—continues the story of early America's influential women with Ladies of Liberty. In her "delightfully intimate and confiding" style (Publishers Weekly), Roberts presents a colorful blend of biographical portraits and behind-the-scenes vignettes chronicling women's public roles and private responsibilities. Comtinued below... 

Recounted with the insight and humor of an expert storyteller and drawing on personal correspondence, private journals, and other primary sources—many of them previously unpublished—Roberts brings to life the extraordinary accomplishments of women who laid the groundwork for a better society. Almost every quotation here is written by a woman, to a woman, or about a woman. From first ladies to freethinkers, educators to explorers, this exceptional group includes Abigail Adams, Margaret Bayard Smith, Martha Jefferson, Dolley Madison, Elizabeth Monroe, Louisa Catherine Adams, Eliza Hamilton, Theodosia Burr, Rebecca Gratz, Louisa Livingston, Rosalie Calvert, Sacajawea, and others. In a much-needed addition to the shelves of Founding Father literature, Roberts sheds new light on the generation of heroines, reformers, and visionaries who helped shape our nation, giving these ladies of liberty the recognition they so greatly deserve. About the Author: Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News and a senior news analyst for National Public Radio. From 1996 to 2002, she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program, This Week. In addition to broadcasting, Roberts, along with her husband, Steven V. Roberts, writes a weekly column syndicated in newspapers around the country by United Media. Both are also contributing editors to USA Weekend, and together they wrote From This Day Forward, an account of their now more than forty-year marriage and other marriages in American history. The book immediately went onto the New York Times bestseller list, following a six-month run on the list by Roberts's first book on women in American history, We Are Our Mothers' Daughters. Roberts is also the author of the bestselling Founding Mothers, the companion volume to Ladies of Liberty. A mother of two and grandmother of six, she lives with her husband in Bethesda, Maryland.

 

Recommended Reading: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation, by Thomas Jefferson (Author), Second Continental Congress (Author), Constitutional Convention (Author). Description: Collected in one affordable volume are the most important documents of the United States of America: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation. These three documents are the basis for our entire way of life. Every citizen should have a copy.

 

Recommended Reading: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Description: To encourage people everywhere to better understand and appreciate the principles of government that are set forth in America’s founding documents, the Cato Institute published this pocket edition of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. With more than three million copies in print, this edition’s influence has been observed far and wide. It has been held up by senators at press conferences and by representatives during floor debate; found in federal judicial chambers across the country; appeared at conferences on constitutionalism in Russia, Iraq, and elsewhere; and sold at U.S. Park Service stores, Restoration Hardware, and book stores around the country. It’s a perfect gift for friends and family. Order your copies today!

 

Recommended Viewing: The American Revolution (History Channel) (482 minutes). Description: Revisit the birth of a nation in this truly definitive look at America's fight for independence and its world-changing rise to glory. The American Revolution features ten powerful documentaries--more than eight hours of essential programming by THE HISTORY CHANNEL® and A&E on DVD for the first time. From the Declaration of Independence to the Treaty of Paris, these are the stories and events surrounding the remarkable achievements of heroic individuals seized by the epic forces of history. Continued below...

Hear the words of the founding fathers and other key figures, as read by leading actors such as Kelsey Grammar (TV’s Frasier) and Michael Learned (TV’s The Waltons). Thrilling re-enactments of great battles, compelling period images, rare archival material, and commentary by leading historians bring the past vividly alive. Between Bunker Hill and Yorktown, from Ben Franklin's masterful diplomacy to Benedict Arnold's deceit and tragedy, The American Revolution presents a sweeping canvas of historical programming at its comprehensive best.
 

Recommended Reading: 1776, by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster). Description: Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated until war was inevitable. McCullough writes vividly about the dismal conditions that troops on both sides had to endure, including an unusually harsh winter, and the role that luck and the whims of the weather played in helping the colonial forces hold off the world's greatest army. Continued below...

He also effectively explores the importance of motivation and troop morale--a tie was as good as a win to the Americans, while anything short of overwhelming victory was disheartening to the British, who expected a swift end to the war. The redcoat retreat from Boston, for example, was particularly humiliating for the British, while the minor American victory at Trenton was magnified despite its limited strategic importance. Some of the strongest passages in 1776 are the revealing and well-rounded portraits of the Georges on both sides of the Atlantic. King George III, so often portrayed as a bumbling, arrogant fool, is given a more thoughtful treatment by McCullough, who shows that the king considered the colonists to be petulant subjects without legitimate grievances--an attitude that led him to underestimate the will and capabilities of the Americans. At times he seems shocked that war was even necessary. The great Washington lives up to his considerable reputation in these pages, and McCullough relies on private correspondence to balance the man and the myth, revealing how deeply concerned Washington was about the Americans' chances for victory, despite his public optimism. Perhaps more than any other man, he realized how fortunate they were to merely survive the year, and he willingly lays the responsibility for their good fortune in the hands of God rather than his own. Enthralling and superbly written, 1776 is the work of a master historian.

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