1. What is the correct date of our declaring independence from England? Hint-it's not July 4th.
* The written resolution for independence was adopted at a vote on July 2nd, so that is the actual date of the document. The Continental Congress spent the next 2 days amending the wording before finally deciding they were done "running their quill pens through it".
John Adams believed July 2nd would be celebrated by generations to come with much gaiety, pomp and celebrating, as he wrote to his wife Abigail in MA, in one of his well-known letters home to her.
Here are his actual words with misspellings from that letter.....
"But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.
I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
2. Philadelphia is where the Declaration of Independence was voted upon and signed in 1776. What was the most widely spoken language by residents of Philadelphia in 1776?
* While the obvious answer is English that is not quite right. This area of PA was settled heavily by German immigrants and at the time of the revolution, it was more common to hear German being spoken and see business signs of local shops written in German.
3. Which 3 American Presidents have died on July 4th?
*2 of these are fairly easy....Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within hours of each other on the 4th in 1826, the one thinking the other one still survived. The 3rd President was James Monroe who followed them to the grave in 1831 on the 4th.
4. Who were the "Committee of Five"....the group of 2nd Continental Congress members selected by that body to come up with a document of independence?
* The committee was made up of delegates John Adams of MA, Thomas Jefferson of VA, Benjamin Franklin of PA, Roger Sherman of CT and Robert Livingston of NY.
5. Who designed the current version of the US Flag?
* A teenager Robert G. Heft living in Lancaster Ohio with his grandparents at that time, in 1958. Designing a new flag when Alaska and Hawaii were poised to become the 49th and 50th states, Robert "Bob" Heft was a high school student. As part of a school project, he designed a new flag and received a b- for his work from his teacher. After his design was chosen from over 1500 ones sent to then President Eisenhower, his teacher upgraded Bob's grade to an A, as he had promised Bob.
Robert Heft spent his career as a teacher and died at the age of 68 in 2009.
6. What bird did Benjamin Franklin propose be the emblem/seal for our country?
*Franklin believed the North American Turkey was the best choice. He believed the turkey to be a noble bird.
Adams wanted the eagle but Franklin objected to this, as it was a long held emblem of many European countries, which they were trying to break free from.
"I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him.... Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.. . . For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."
7. It is well known that Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner, our nation's anthem. And that he wrote in his journal, what was to become the lyrics for the song, while onboard a ship in Baltimore Harbor, while British forces bombarded Fort McHenry in 1812. But do you know why he was onboard a ship in Baltimore Harbor?
* Key was having dinner on board a British ship at the invite of 3 British naval officers on the night of 13 Sept, 1814. He was there with the American Prisoner Exchange Agent to negotiate the exchange of American prisoners being held. Key was a lawyer who's client, Dr. William Beanes of MD, was among those being held.
Key was unsuccessful at releasing his client but he got a really well known song out of the deal.
The Star Spangled Banner did not become our official anthem until 1916 under Woodrow Wilson and then by a congressional resolution in 1931 under Herbert Hoover.
8. How many versions of the American flag have there been since 1776?
* There have been 28 official versions of the American flag, sort of.
The flag as we know it, red and white alternating stripes with a field of blue and stars, has undergone 26 modified versions, so 27 versions of that design. The first officially recognized flag, adopted in December 1775, had alternation red and white stripes but instead of a blue field and stars, there was a St. George's Cross/Union Jack in the upper left corner.
The 13 Colonies Flag of June, 1777
9. The original Declaration of Independence was printed on parchment, but the original copies, to be distributed among the citizens in the 13 colonies were printed on paper. Who printed the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and where?
* Though Franklin would be the obvious answer, because he was, among other things, a printer by trade, the original paper copies of the Declaration were printed in Philadelphia by a printer & book seller named John Dunlap. He was an immigrant from Ireland, a successful printer in the city and secured a contract with the 2nd Continental Congress supplying for their printing needs.
The type of sheet he printed the Declaration on was called a "broadside" in the printing trade. It was typically a large sheet, printed on one side. It was similar to today's poster.
(As an aside, by July 9th someone had translated and published the Declaration into German in Philadelphia so the bulk of the citizens in that city could read it.)
10. How many copies of the original Declaration of Independence printed in 1776 are known to exist today?
* There are 26 copies known to exist today. Approx. 200 were printed up in 1776. One was discovered in 1989 by an amateur collector at a PA flea market hidden behind a framed painting he paid $4 for. He later sold his discovery at auction for $8.14 million.
In 2009 the latest discovered copy was found in The National Archives in Britain among some papers that had been intercepted by the British in the 18th century, during the revolution. This brings the number of original copies in the hands of the British Archives to 3.
11. How many members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776?
* The original, original declaration was printed on paper and only John Hancock signed this one.
The official declaration was printed on parchment(the wording was engrossed into that material, not just lying on top of the surface, so it would be better preserved)and was not signed until August 2nd of 1776. Eventually 56 delegates signed the document. There is debate on when certain people had signed. It is widely held that most of the delegates signed on Aug. 2nd, but there were some who were not present(weren't even elected to Congress until after that date)who have signed. When it was all over with, 56 signatures were affixed to the parchment.
By the way--The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin of PA at 80 and the youngest was Edward Rutledge of SC at 26.
12. Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence how many also signed the U.S. Constitution?
* Only 6 Declaration signers also signed the Constitution; Benjamin Franklin of PA, George Read of DE, Roger Sherman of CT, Robert Morris of PA, George Clymer of PA and James Wilson of PA.
By the way-Roger Sherman, the cobbler from CT, was the only member of Congress who signed all 4 of the documents important to the founding of the USA. He signed the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Association and the Articles of Confederation.
I hope you've learned something from this little trivia quiz. I know I did. ;-)