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It doesn't have the prestige of the Fourth of July, but August 2, 1776, was a red-letter day in American history. Despite its importance, the Declaration of Independence was not signed until almost a month after it was approved by members of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. After that approval, the document was sent to a printer, John Dunlap, who made 200 copies, but it wasn't until August 2nd that an engrossed copy – a final version that is ready to be signed – arrived back in Philadelphia.
One by one, the members signed the Declaration, but it's interesting to note that while 49 delegates were present for the original vote, 56 congressional members' signatures are on the document. According to historian Herbert Friedenwald, those members who signed were not necessarily the same as those who voted.
I do declare:
- The original draft of the Declaration of Independence went through 86 revisions before being approved.
- Only 26 of the copies of the Declaration printed by John Dunlap still exist.
- Only six people signed both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including Benjamin Franklin.