In June of 1776 a committee of five politicians; John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman, were tasked with drafting a declaration of independence from the English. The War for Independence had been raging for over a year and the politicians felt it was time to officially separate from the Crown.
It took roughly 3 weeks to put together the document, which went through re-writes and revisions and on July 1st it was time for Congress to put the final draft on the table and get to voting. After a day of votes, arguments and speeches the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 2, 1776 with twelve “Yea” votes and one abstention vote.
Over the next five months a total of 56 delegates signed the document with John Hancock signing first on July 4, 1776 when the final document was approved for printing. The final signature was Matthew Thornton on November 4, 1776. Additionally it is believed that the document that was signed and is currently on display in the National Archives is not the original document nor the only one to remain. The original document that was submitted to Congress in June 1776 was destroyed while it was being re-written and edited, it is also believed that there were up to 200 Declarations printed up and sent to politicians around the country with 26 copies still known to survive.