By Jeffrey Sikkenga

Many of the activities associated with Independence Day have been canceled this year, including parades, fireworks, and large community and neighborhood barbecues.

During this quieter holiday, the quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, provides the opportunity for you to reflect on our shared history as a nation and test your knowledge of our nation’s creation, which is marked by the approval of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

1. Who is considered to be the primary author of the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas Jefferson is considered the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, although Jefferson's draft went through a process of revision by his fellow committee members and the Second Continental Congress. (Monticello)

2. What was the colonists’ government called at the time of the Declaration of Independence’s signing?

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies' separation from Great Britain. (

3. Representatives from 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence. Which of the following was not a colony at that time?

In January 1777, delegates from 28 towns met and declared independence from the jurisdictions and land claims of the British colony of Quebec, and from the American states of New Hampshire and New York. ... In 1791, Vermont officially joined the United States as the 14th state. (Wikipedia)

4. The Declaration of Independence lists a number of grievances against the British king. Which of the following was not among them?

The grievances/complaints was a section from the Declaration of Independence where the colonists listed their problems with the British government, specifically George III. The United States Declaration of Independence contains 27 grievances against the decisions and actions of George III of Great Britain. (Wikipedia)

5. The final sentence of the Declaration of Independence says the signers pledge what three things to each other?

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” (Cap Journal)

6. Who wrote the pamphlet “Common Sense,” which was an attack on monarchy published in January 1776 that helped to turn American public opinion toward independence?

On January 9, 1776, writer Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet “Common Sense,” setting forth his arguments in favor of American independence. (History)

7. Which colony’s “Declaration of Rights” influenced the writing of the Declaration of Independence?

The Virginia Declaration of Rights. Virginia's Declaration of Rights was drawn upon by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was widely copied by the other colonies and became the basis of the Bill of Rights. (Archives)

8. The Revolutionary War continued until the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which happened in what year?

The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War. (Wikipedia)

9. Who was the king that reigned over the colonists at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence?

On October 31, 1776, in his first speech before British Parliament since the leaders of the American Revolution came together to sign of the Declaration of Independence that summer, King George III acknowledges that all was not going well for Britain in the war with the United States. (History)

10. Which signer of the Declaration of Independence stated that this holiday “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more”?

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

About the Author 

Jeffrey Sikkenga is executive director of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio. He wrote this for

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