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On August 2, 1776, 242 years ago today, the parchment manuscript generally thought of as the original “Declaration of Independence” was signed by most of its 56 final signatories. First in line was the President of the Second Continental Congress, one John Hancock, who signed his name larger than anyone else, and, after doing so, is reputed to have proclaimed our quote of the day, something very similar to: “There! King George and his ministry can read that without spectacles! They can double the price on my head now.”
In fact, these men were not signing the original Declaration of Independence. That one, known as the “fair copy,” was assembled by Thomas Jefferson from earlier drafts, and it was signed by John Hancock alone, on July 4, 1776. It was sent off so copies could be printed, and then lost, perhaps in the printing process itself. Subsequently, approximately 200 broadside copies of the Declaration were printed, with Hancock’s name included in printed form only.More