By Jason Stevens

Near the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson described the Declaration of Independence as “an expression of the American mind.”

On Independence Day, Americans should remember not only the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War but, more important, the fundamental principles and ideals that created and sustain the nation.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence.

1. On what day did the Second Continental Congress officially declare American independence from Great Britain? Hint: John Adams thought this day would be celebrated for generations as “the most memorable … in the history of America.”

Congress finally approved the resolution of independence on July 2, 1776. They next turned their attention to a formal explanation of this decision, the United States Declaration of Independence which was approved on July 4 and published soon thereafter. (Wikipedia)

2. On what day did the Second Continental Congress officially adopt the Declaration of Independence?

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), approved the Declaration of Independence, severing the colonies' ties to the British Crown. (Library of Congress)

3. Who were the members of the “Committee of Five” that was responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence?

On June 11, 1776, Congress appointed a "Committee of Five", consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, to draft a declaration. (Constitution Facts)

4. What are the opening words of the Declaration of Independence?

The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence goes as follows: "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation..." (US History)

5. Who served as president of the Second Continental Congress?

John Hancock is best known for his large signature on the Declaration of Independence, which he jested the British could read without spectacles. He was serving as president of Congress upon the declaration’s adoption on July 4, 1776, and, as such, was the first member of the Congress to sign the historic document. (History)

6. Which state abstained from voting for independence?

Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted against declaring independence. The New York delegation abstained, lacking permission to vote for independence. Delaware cast no vote because the delegation was split between Thomas McKean, who voted yes, and George Read, who voted no. (Wikipedia)

7. How many future presidents signed the Declaration of Independence?

Two future U.S. presidents signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. (Quora)

8: Three U.S. presidents died on July 4. Who were they?

Three of the first five U.S. presidents died on July 4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the country's birth. Adams' last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” James Monroe, the fifth president, died five years later in 1831. (The Washington Post)

9. Who was the longest surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence?

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was the longest-lived and last surviving Signer. (National Archives)

10: What famous American entertainer always claimed, incorrectly, that he was born on the Fourth of July?

Armstrong often stated that he was born on July 4, 1900. Although he died in 1971, it was not until the mid-1980s that his true birth date, August 4, 1901, was discovered by Tad Jones by researching baptismal records. At least three other biographies treat the July 4th birth date as a myth. (Wikipedia)

ANSWERS: 1-B, 2-D, 3-A, 4-C, 5-C, 6-D, 7-B, 8-A, 9-C, 10-D

About the Author 

Jason W. Stevens is visiting assistant professor of political science and history at Ashland University and assistant director of the Ashbrook Center’s Ashbrook Scholars Program. He wrote this for

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