How Much Do You Really Know About the Declaration of Independence?

HISTORY

By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most vital documents in American history. But how much do you really know about this incredible act of political defiance?

The Declaration of Independence declared that the American colonies wanted to be free from which nation?

The 13 colonies decided to band together and declare their independence from Great Britain. As it turned out, Britain wasn't too keen on the idea.

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When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

If you're an American and you guessed December 7, 1941, a few World War II veterans would like a word with you. The Declaration was adopted on July 4, 1776, a date that will live forever in the halls of freedom.

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When did colonial leaders actually get around to SIGNING the Declaration of Independence?

Typical bureaucratic behavior. The Declaration was adopted on July 4, but historians are pretty sure the politicians didn't actually sign the document until a full month later.

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Which founding father wrote most of the initial draft of the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas Jefferson, perhaps the most eloquent man in American history, authored many of the most important lines of the Declaration.

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True or false, can visitors still see the original signed Declaration of Independence?

It's true, the centuries-old document is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

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Finish this phrase from the Declaration. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are _____."

It's a line that altered the course of human history. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

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What factor contributed to the creation of the Declaration?

Many people traveled to the colonies to escape government oppression, but then they were subjected to unfair taxation from the British. The idea of independence slowly but surely gained momentum.

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How many colonies were there when the Declaration was adopted?

There were 13 colonies in North America when the Declaration was adopted. And once the Revolution was over, those 13 colonies became states.

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True or false, did the Declaration of Independence mark the start of the Revolutionary War?

The war had already been raging for about a year when the colonists announced the Declaration. But it would be a long time before the Declaration's ideals came to fruition.

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The Declaration was signed in the summer of 1776. When did the Revolutionary War end?

The war dragged on until 1783, when the British realized they would never be able to put down the rebellion. After years of strife and death, the promise of the Declaration became a reality.

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When did the founding fathers VOTE to adopt the Declaration of Independence?

Turns out, July 4 doesn't have quite the significance we sometimes think. The historic declaration of freedom from Britain actually happened on July 2. But the founding fathers didn't adopt the document until two days later.

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After the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration, how many copies were printed?

Once the document was approved, a printer named John Dunlap made about 200 copies, and around 26 known copies still exist. In 1989, a buyer stumbled on one copy and wound up selling it for more than $8 million.

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True or false, did all of the colonies want to declare independence right away?

Not all of the colonies were ready to declare independence. Some thought they should strengthen ties with other countries before trying to cast off Britain's chains.

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Which colony decided to abstain from voting on a Declaration of Independence?

Ohio and California weren't colonies. But New York was, and its leaders were not at all sure about this whole declaration thing, so they abstained from voting.

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True or false, was Thomas Jefferson basically the only person who wrote the Declaration?

Jefferson was the primary author of major lines in the document, especially in the first draft. But the Declaration was written by a five-person committee that wrote and rewrote the world-changing sentences.

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Who was NOT one of the authors of the Declaration?

George Washington was too busy leading the fight against the British to write a political document. He didn't write any of the Declaration.

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How many people signed the Declaration?

There were 56 signers of the Declaration. The men came from all corners of the 13 colonies to sign the critical document.

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The Declaration didn't just say that the colonies wanted independence. It also included _____.

Hey, they tried to be nice about it. The colonists set about declaring their independence and also explained why exactly independence was necessary to their lives.

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How long did it take Thomas Jefferson to write the first draft of the Declaration?

With the war already raging, Jefferson set to work on the epic words of the Declaration. It took him a few weeks to churn out the first draft.

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How many signers of the Declaration eventually became president?

Two of the Declaration's signers eventually became president. They were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and as it turned out, their fates were intertwined in many strange ways.

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Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, what happened to both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

The world was a scary place after the Pearl Harbor attack. American officials hid the documents in Fort Knox for protection until World War II burned itself out.

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Richard Stockton was a signer of the Declaration. He was the only person to do what?

Stockton was captured and imprisoned by the British, and they forced him to recant his declaration. After a long time in jail, he gained his freedom and then reaffirmed his commitment to the revolution.

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George Washington read the Declaration at a public meeting on July 9, 1776. Then what happened?

Washington's bold words so inflamed public passions that there was a riot. New Yorkers fanned the streets and tore down a statue of Britain's King George III.

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Benjamin Franklin was the oldest person to sign the Declaration. How old was he?

Franklin was one of the first and loudest voices for American independence. He was 70 years old when he signed the document, undoubtedly with more than a hint of glee.

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True or false, did all of the men who signed the Declaration live to see the end of the Revolution?

Not everyone lived to see the glorious birth of the new nation. Nine men died before the Revolutionary War ended.

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Why didn't George Washington sign the Declaration?

Look, the British were mowing down colonists left and right. Someone had to shoot back. That'd be George, the Father of the Country.

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There is a message scrawled on the back of the Declaration. What does it say?

OK, so it's not a secret code or anything. But for purposes of authenticity, the writers included, "Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776" on the back of the Declaration.

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Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were the only two signers of the Declaration who later became president. They also both died on the same day. What day was it?

On July 4, exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration, both Jefferson and Adams died.

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True or false, were all of the signers of the Declaration born in the colonies?

Most, but not all, of the signers of the Declaration were born in the colonies. Only eight signers were born in Britain.

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Alexander Hamilton was one of the founding fathers of America. Why didn't he sign the Declaration?

Hamilton was a 19-year-old man in the Continental Army when the Declaration was signed. He quickly ascended to power and became a guiding force for the country.

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