5 things you might not know about... the US Declaration of Independence
Following the recent discovery of a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence in West Sussex, we bring you five facts about the famous 18th-century document
1 It wasn’t actually signed on 4 July 1776
4 July is traditionally celebrated as the day on which the US declared its independence from Britain. Yet the declaration had actually been signed two days earlier. The final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved on 4 July, however, which was also the date on which it was printed and circulated throughout the new nation.
2 News of the declaration started a riot
When news of the declaration reached New York and the document was read aloud by George Washington, a jubilant crowd tore down a statue of British king George III. The statue was later melted down and used to create more than 42,000 musket balls.
3 The signatures were kept secret
The names of the men who signed the declaration weren’t released until January 1777, to protect them from charges of treason.
4 The declaration and constitution were hidden during the Second World War
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the two documents were taken to Fort Knox (accompanied by a military escort), where they remained under lock and key for several years.
5 Few copies from the first print run survive
After its approval the declaration was sent to printer John Dunlap, who produced 200 copies known today as the Dunlap Broadsides. A mere 26 copies are known to survive.