" We Must Hand Together Or Surely We Shall Hang Separately"

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress agreed upon the content of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July 4, the document was signed the document. We do not know exactly what was said and done the day the Declaration was signed. What we do know, however, is that only John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Congress, signed the Declaration on July 4th. Most delegates signed the Declaration on August 2, and one didn't sign it until 1781. Nevertheless, we know that the delegates knew they were taking a major step. Mary Katherine Goddard, publisher of the Maryland Journal, made the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence with the names of all the signers, and distributed the document across the colonies. Having declared their freedom, the American patriots had to win it in battle. By signing the Declaration of Independence, the delegates were putting their lives on the line. If they were to lose the war for independence, then the British government would execute them in a very painful and nasty way. Thus, although we do not know if Benjamin Franklin actually said, "we must all hang together, or ... we shall all hang separately," it is likely that that idea was in the minds of the delegates that day in July.

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