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Signers of the Declaration of Independence. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Historical Note: One of the most enduring myths about the Declaration of Independence is that it was signed by Congress on July 4, 1776, immediately after it was adopted. In actuality the signed version was actually created at a later date and  some of the signers had not yet even been elected to Congress on July 4. On July 19, 1776, after the New York delegation had been given permission to approve the resolution of independence, making the decision unanimous, Congress ordered a copy of the Declaration to be written on parchment for the delegates to sign. Two future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were among the signatories. Edward Rutledge (age 26) was the youngest signer, and Benjamin Franklin (age 70) was the oldest signer. Late signers were Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean, and Matthew Thornton (who, because of a lack of space, was unable to place his signature on the top right of the signing area with the other New Hampshire delegates, and had to place his signature on the lower right). As new delegates joined the Congress, they were also allowed to sign. A total of 56 delegates eventually signed.

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