We Hold These Truths to Be Self-evident: The Declaration of Independence Quiz

By: Staff

How long had the Colonies been at war with England when the Declaration of Independence was written?

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in April 1775, and the Declaration came about a year later.

To which king was the declaration addressed?

George III was the king of England. "The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states."

In the months leading up to the drafting of the declaration, many Colonies issued their own independence documents. Which two Colonies were the last holdouts?

Maryland and New York were the final Colonies to make a move for independence.

On June 7, 1776, this Virginia representative proposed a resolution to Congress that included instructions for an official declaration of independence.

The Lee Resolution set the wheels in motion for the Declaration of Independence.

On June 11, the Continental Congress appointed the "committee of five" to write the declaration. Of the five, this guy ended up being the only person to sign the declaration, the Constitution, the Continental Association and the Articles of Confederation.

Roger Sherman of Connecticut was the only man to sign all four documents.

This member of the committee of five was also the oldest representative in the Continental Congress.

Seventy-year-old Benjamin Franklin was on the committee. (In addition to Roger Sherman, the other members were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Robert Livingston.)

Most of the committee thought this member should write the declaration.

Adams had been an outspoken advocate for independence for years, so his fellow committee members assumed that he'd write it.

Who did Adams think should write it?

Adams told Jefferson, "You can write 10 times better than I can."

How old was Jefferson when he wrote the declaration?

Jefferson, at age 33, was the second-youngest delegate.

How long did it take Jefferson to write the declaration?

Jefferson wrote and edited with the committee for 17 days before presenting the document to Congress.

After Jefferson submitted his work to Congress on June 28, the delegates set to editing it. About how much of Jefferson's work was deleted?

The final version of the Declaration of Independence is about one-quarter shorter than Jefferson's original.

A passage on this subject was the main section deleted from the document.

Jefferson (a slave owner himself) really ripped into King George over the slave trade, but his fellow delegates cut it after much debate.

How did Jefferson feel about that?

Jefferson said that Congress had "mangled" his work.

When did the Second Continental Congress vote on independence?

The Congress voted on independence on July 2, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted two days later.

What was the result of the vote?

It was unanimous, although New York abstained, so it was 12 Colonies instead of 13.

When did the delegates sign the declaration?

There's been debate on the subject, but the consensus is that everyone signed on Aug. 2.

Who was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence?

Hancock was the president of the Congress, so he went first.

How many people signed the declaration?

There were 56 signers. The last, Matthew Thornton of New Hampshire, added his name in November 1776.

Which state had the most signers?

Pennsylvania had the most: nine.

How many future presidents signed the declaration?

Two signed the declaration: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

How old was the youngest declaration signer?

Edward Rutledge of South Carolina was the youngest at age 26.

Who printed the first copies of the declaration on July 4, 1776?

Philadelphia printer John Dunlap got the honor of printing 200 "broadsides" for public distribution.

How many of the Dunlap broadsides survive?

Twenty-six Dunlap broadsides are still around, including one found behind a $4 flea-market painting in 1989.

Where is the original declaration?

The National Archives' Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom houses the declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The priceless documents are preserved in titanium and aluminum cases filled with this kind of gas.

The documents had been in bronze cases filled with humidified helium, but in 2003 they were moved to titanium and aluminum cases filled with inert argon gas.

Is there a secret message on the back of the Declaration of Independence?

"National Treasure" did seem like a documentary, but it was actually fictional. There is writing on the back of the declaration, but it just says "original Declaration of Independence dated July 4, 1776."

What event caused the declaration and Constitution to be whisked away to Fort Knox for several years?

At the onset of the United States' involvement in World War II, the documents were taken to Fort Knox for safekeeping.

Fill in the blank: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain _______ rights …

Early drafts of the declaration say "inalienable," but the final version says "unalienable." Same difference.

Fill in the blank: That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of ______.

British philosopher John Locke, one of Jefferson's heroes, said that people had a right to "life, liberty and property." Jefferson, for some reason, turned the last one to "happiness."

Fill in the blank: That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to _______ it.

Interestingly, Jefferson wrote a provision for the people to "abolish" the very government that was being established.

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About This Quiz

The Declaration of Independence is the defining document of U.S. history. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of the story behind the declaration.

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