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Signing the
Declaration of Independence

Click here for a larger image of the Declaration of IndependenceThe Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th 1776, but it was not signed until almost a month later. The Congress did not have the approval of all 13 colonies until July 9th. On July 19th Congress ordered that an official copy of the document be created. The order called for hand written ornamental script to be used on parchment paper with the title "The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America". Using a quill pen, this took some time to finish. Therefore the actual signing finally took place on August 2nd.

As president of the Congress John Hancock was the first to sign this historic document. He used large bold script and signed under the text in the center of the page. At that time, a general practice was to sign below text on the right and by geographic location. Using this protocol, signatures of the New Hampshire delegates began the list. Delegates from Georgia, the southernmost state, ended the list. Some of the delegates were not in Philadelphia on that day, but signed the document later. Not all delegates signed the document.

The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence included two future presidents, three vice presidents, and ten members of the United States Congress. Below are the names of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence:

[Column 1]
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

[Column 2]
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

[Column 3]
Massachusetts: John Hancock
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

[Column 4]
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

[Column 5]
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

[Column 6]
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple
Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton