New Hampshire: Facts and Myths of July 4th

It has been over 230 years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted

but both facts and myths still swirl around this day of celebration.


Statement: The signers of the Declaration of Independence, more than others, put themselves in danger of persecution by the British.

This is FALSE.

Fact: The signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged it all: “For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” This cannot be denied and they are honored for their service to their county.

Second Fact: HOWEVER, in New Hampshire, and all the other American colonies, ANY ONE who signed the required Association Test, was considered as traitor by the British, as much as those who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Statement: We celebrate the Fourth of July, because that is the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed.

This is FALSE.

Fact: On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, and it was printed for distribution to the state legislatures.  Delegates did not begin to sign the document until August 2nd. [See the Chronology]

Statement: Fifty-six (56) men signed the Declaration of Independence. The first, largest, and most famous signature is that of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. The youngest signer was Edward Rutledge (age 26). Benjamin Franklin (age 70) was the oldest. Two future presidents signed: John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President).

Statement: The three men signing the Declaration for new Hampshire were Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, and William Whipple.

These statements both contain TRUE FACTS.



I’m sure you’ve read the story on a web site or through email about what happened to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, called “The Price They Paid.”  this tale makes its route through email chain letters at least once a year.  Just today I quickly found about 30 copies of it on various web sites.

This story tells you how many signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured and tortured by the British, or lost their fortunes, had their homes and livelihoods destroyed, had families jailed, or they died early from events during the American Revolution….

MOST versions of that story are SIMPLY NOT true. Please, for the sake of promoting historical truth, regardless of how it arouses you patriotically, resist the urge to republish it or forward it by email! I found a very credible post stating that states Paul Harvey wrote the original, and here it is, with research comments.

I also found several copies of the story, along with rebuttals showing how this document is incorrect.  False Story and Rebuttal #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 |


On the 225th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, The Heritage Foundation wrote a wonderfully clear and historically correct article about the history and impact of the Declaration of Independence, and I highly recommend it.

Down, at the bottom of this page is an article entitled: “A NOTE ON THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.”  It is a well researched and accurate substitute for the “Price They Paid” article.


So on this 230th anniversary of the ADOPTION of the Declaration of Independence, let us accurately remember why we celebrate the Fourth of July, celebrate our freedom, and remember ALL of the brave patriots, who pledged their sacred honor to defend liberty.

Respectfully I repeat the words that John Adams used to toast the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, “Independence Forever.”

[Note: Adams’ final public oration was delivered June 30, 1826. A small delegation from the town of Quincy, Mass., went to his bedside and asked if he would give a toast that could be read aloud at the upcoming 50th celebration of the Declaration of Independence. He responded, “I will give you independence forever!”  These, however were NOT his last words, as is sometimes reported.]


Just a little Fourth of July Trivia
1.The two people who were most responsible for the composition of the Declaration of Independence, died on the same day–John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  Incidentally, it was on the Fourth of July, 1826.  Adams died a few hours before Jefferson.
2.   On the 4th of July 1812, Nashua New Hampshire’s second meeting house was raised.
3. On the 4th of July 18, 1841, workmen gave up trying to move the “Belknap” (the first steam driven boat on Lake Winnepesaukee) off the sandbar where she became jammed while towing a large raft of timber. They removed her boiler, engine, and iron-work, and left her to her fate.
4. In 2006 Merrimack New Hampshire’s parade grand marshals were three direct descendants of Matthew Thornton.

Additional Reading

You Can Sign The Declaration of Independence

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Fourth of July Celebrations Database

Top Ten Movies for Genealogists
(Born on the Fourth of July, etc.)

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