As people across the United States celebrate the nation’s birthday, explore nine surprising facts about the founding document adopted on July 4, 1776.
1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.
On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and on the following day 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place. First, New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9 because their home assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence. Next, it took two weeks for the Declaration to be “engrossed”—written on parchment in a clear hand. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several—Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean and Matthew Thornton—signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.) The signed parchment copy now resides at the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, alongside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
2. More than one copy exists.
After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the “Committee of Five”—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston—was charged with overseeing the reproduction of the approved text. This was completed at the shop of Philadelphia printer John Dunlap. On July 5, Dunlap’s copies were dispatched across the 13 colonies to newspapers, local officials and the commanders of the Continental troops. These rare documents, known as “Dunlap broadsides,” predate the engrossed version signed by the delegates. Of the hundreds thought to have been printed on the night of July 4, only 26 copies survive. Most are held in museum and library collections, but three are privately owned.
3. When news of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, it started a riot.
By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence had reached New York City. With hundreds of British naval ships occupying New York Harbor, revolutionary spirit and military tensions were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the document aloud in front of City Hall. A raucous crowd cheered the inspiring words, and later that day tore down a nearby statue of George III. The statue was subsequently melted down and shaped into more than 42,000 musket balls for the fledgling American army.
4. Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Britain.
While the majority of the members of the Second Continental Congress were native-born Americans, eight of the men voting for independence from Britain were born there. Button Gwinnett and Robert Morris were born in England, Francis Lewis was born in Wales, James Wilson and John Witherspoon were born in Scotland, George Taylor and Matthew Thornton were born in Ireland and James Smith hailed from Northern Ireland.
5. One signer later recanted.
Richard Stockton, a lawyer from Princeton, New Jersey, became the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to recant his support of the revolution. On November 30, 1776, the hapless delegate was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of harsh treatment and meager rations, Stockton repudiated his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III. A broken man when he regained his freedom, he took a new oath of loyalty to the state of New Jersey in December 1777.
6. There was a 44-year age difference between the youngest and oldest signers.
The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin, 70 years old when he scrawled his name on the parchment. The youngest was Edward Rutledge, a lawyer from South Carolina who was only 26 at the time. Rutledge narrowly beat out fellow South Carolinian Thomas Lynch Jr., just four months his senior, for the title.
7. Two additional copies have been found in the last 25 years.
In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of the few surviving copies from the official first printing of the Declaration, it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in 2000. A 26th known Dunlap broadside emerged at the British National Archives in 2009, hidden for centuries in a box of papers captured from American colonists during the Revolutionary War. One of three Dunlap broadsides at the National Archives, the copy remains there to this day.
8. The Declaration of Independence spent World War II in Fort Knox.
On December 23, 1941, just over two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the signed Declaration, together with the Constitution, was removed from public display and prepared for evacuation out of Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.
9. There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
In the movie “National Treasure,” Nicholas Cage’s character claims that the back of the Declaration contains a treasure map with encrypted instructions from the founding fathers, written in invisible ink. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is, however, a simpler message, written upside-down across the bottom of the signed document: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” No one knows who exactly wrote this or when, but during the Revolutionary War years the parchment was frequently rolled up for transport. It’s thought that the text was added as a label.
Fayemi reacts to xenophobic attacks, says South African leaders must take convincing actions
The Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi has called on South African authorities to do more to pacify keen observers of the Xenophobic developments in the country.
Fayemi recalled the roles played by Nigerians and Africans towards liberating South Africans in their days of struggle asking that such should be reciprocated.
“The South African struggle was a Pan African project. I recall what many parents did in Nigeria , everybody contributed. As a Young University student I was a volunteer in the ANC Chief representative office in Lagos, spending greater part of my youth involved in the struggle to free South Africa”, Fayemi recalled.
He continued : “Leaders in South Africa need to really demonstrate that they actually understand what Africans are saying to them. South Africa is not an Island.”
Fayemi stated that showing aggression and putting a uniform tag of criminality on all foreigners in South Africa is an error of judgement which smacks of ignorance and ingratitude.
But he calls for caution in the clamour by some protesters that Nigeria should sever ties with the Country as he highlights the peculiarity of international relations.
“Foreign relations is not handled in a precipitate manner, countries go through processes, I believe we haven’t got to the stage yet where we cut off relationship with South Africa”, the Ekiti state governor noted.
How Sowore planned to overthrow Buhari, free El-Zakzaky – DSS
The Department of State Services (DSS) has said its investigation so far revealed that ‘Revolution Now’ was smokescreen for the actual intention of Omoyele Sowore, the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the last presidential election, to overthrow President Buhari.
The security agency also alleged that Sowore intended to free Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) having received millions of Dollars from foreign sponsors.
The DSS also said it engaged in a painstaking investigation of Sowore’s activities in view of the quantum of evidence so far gathered and may return to court to seek an extension of the 45 days granted it by the Federal High Court, Abuja to detain him.
The DSS made this known in a fresh document it filed at the Federal High Court on Monday in response to an application by Sowore, challenging the court’s order, granting the security agency 45 days to detain him pending investigation.
In the counter-affidavit deposed to by Godwin Agbadua, an official of the DSS, it was stated that Sowore was arrested on reasonable suspicion of having committed a capital offence, upon his alleged involvement in terrorists’ activities.
“The respondent/applicant (Sowore) planned to violently change the government through the hashtag RevolutionNow. The respondent/applicant hid under the cover of call for mass protest with the hashtag RevolutionNow to mislead unsuspecting and innocent members of the public into joining him to topple the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“In his plot to topple the government the respondent/applicant held series of meetings with members at a prescribed terrorists‘organisation, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) with a view to mobilizing strong forces to realize his agenda at changing the government
“The respondent formed an alliance with a fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, a self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed terrorists group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to launch series of attacks on Nigeria with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
“After series of closed-door meetings between the duo in the United States of America, they addressed a press conference wherein they both stated their resolve to form alliance against the Nigerian government, the duo stated that they have a well-planned out strategy to realize their objective, which is toppling the government.
“The applicant/respondent is investigating the activities of the respondent /applicant as it relates to a terrorists organisation, IPOB. The facts show a conjecture between the respondent/applicant and IPOB activities.
“There is the need for the applicant/respondent to investigate such reasonable suspicion of the relationship between the respondent/applicant and IPOB.
“The respondent held series of meetings with some foreign collaborators outside Nigeria including Dubai where millions of dollars were given to him to sponsor a widespread attack on Nigeria with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and freeing Ibrahim Yaqub Elzakzaky (Shaikh).
“In furtherance to the plans to violently free Elzakzaky from lawful custody. The respondent held several meetings with a proscribed terrorist’s organisation. Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) where they strategized on how to carry out attacks to force the government to free Elzakzaky.
“The respondent stated in one of his videos that Shiite members, who are members of the proscribed terrorists group, IMN were going to join forces with him in bringing down the government. The statement and the meetings of the respondent/applicant raises issue of grave suspicion of supporting a proscribed terrorists’ organisation, IMN.
“The suspicions require diligent investigation by the applicant/respondent. The planned action constitutes a threat of violence to intimidate or cause panic in members of the public as a means of affecting political conduct
“The investigation is still ongoing. Upon the completion of investigation, the case file will be forwarded to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for advice and possible prosecution,” DSS said.
London varsity bans beef to curb climate change
Goldsmiths University, London, has banned all beef products from its campus “to help fight climate change”.
CNN is reporting that the university also announced an additional levy of 12 cents on bottled water and single-use plastics.
Frances Corner, the university’s warden, was quoted as saying the measures is part of steps introduced to help the fight against climate crisis.
Beef is said to be responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock accounts for 14.5% of total global emissions in the world.
But the university — which seeks to become carbon neutral by 2025 — said the product will be scrapped from its campus menu when the new academic year begins.
“The changes come as part of a major drive to cut carbon use across Goldsmiths as the College joins other universities and institutions in declaring a climate emergency and announcing a determined aim to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2025,” Corner said.
“I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history and Goldsmiths now stands shoulder to shoulder with other organizations willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use.
“The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.
“Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible.”
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