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Author: Mike Bates
Date:  July 3, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

The Mike Bates Independence Day Quiz

Happy Birthday, America. It's been 232 years since the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. Take a quick quiz to see how much you know about this statement that changed the world.

Happy Birthday, America. It's been 232 years since the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. Take a quick quiz to see how much you know about this statement that changed the world.

1. From what country did the American colonies declare their independence?

2. In what city was the Declaration written?

3. What colony did George Washington represent when he signed the Declaration?

4. What two signers died on an anniversary of the Declaration?

5. How many of the 13 colonies approved the Declaration?

6. Who signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776?

7. Whose authorship of the Declaration was treated as a state secret for 24 years?

8. What U.S. bill depicts the Declaration?

9. In what year was July 4 declared a federal holiday?

10. Which signer included where he lived on the Declaration?

That was fun, wasn't it? Here are the answers.

1. Great Britain. You might think everyone knows that, but they don't. One Gallup poll found that only 76 percent of Americans answered the question correctly.

2. Philadelphia.

3. Sorry, that was a trick question. George Washington didn't sign the Declaration of Independence. He was busy commanding the Continental army.

4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration. Political adversaries at times, and friends at others, these two remarkable men were vital to the creation of the United States. In his wonderful biography of Adams, David McCullough writes that, when told it was the Fourth, Mr. Adams answered "It is a great day. It is a good day." Among his last words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives." Mr. Jefferson had died several hours earlier.

5. Only 12 colonies approved the document. New York abstained.

6. On the great day itself, just two men signed the Declaration. They were John Hancock, the Continental Congress's president, and Charles Thomson, its secretary. Most of the delegates signed the document on August 2.

7. Thomas Jefferson. It wasn't until he ran for president in 1800 that his authorship of the Declaration became widely known. In his later years, John Adams recounted the arguments he used to persuade Mr. Jefferson to write the Declaration: "Reason first: You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second: I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third: You can write ten times better than I can." That wasn't Tom's recollection, but it still makes a good anecdote.

8. The $2 Federal Reserve Note. Thomas Jefferson's portrait has been on the front of the note since 1869. Observing our bicentennial in 1976, the back of note was changed to feature an engraving of John Trumbull's painting "The Signing of the Declaration of Independence."

9. If you knew the answer to this one, you need to get out more. It was in 1870 and, according to the Congressional Research Service, Independence Day, Christmas, New Year's Day, and Thanksgiving were the first four days thus recognized.

10. Maryland's Charles Carroll added "of Carrollton" after his signature. It's believed that was done so relatives with the same name weren't confused for him. Signing the Declaration was treason pure and simple, and the courageous men who affixed their names to it were risking everything. Mr. Carroll was also the only Catholic to sign, a not inconsequential deed at a time when people of his faith weren't even permitted to vote. He was the last signer to die, passing away in 1832.

If your score is 9 or 10: You sure know how to use Google.

If your score is 6-8: Someone was paying attention in high school.

If your score is 4 or 5: Someone wasn't paying attention in high school.

If your score is 3 or less: Been a Democrat long?

I'll spend Independence Day trying not to remember it's my birthday and dwelling on what a blessing it is to have been born in these United States of America.

Have a terrific Fourth!

Mike Bates

Notes:  This Michael Bates column appeared in the July 3, 2008 Reporter Newspapers.

Biography - Mike Bates

Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column

Copyright 2008 by Mike Bates
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