While we are almost always focused on the future and what we can help our customers achieve by going digital with DocuSign, occasionally it’s good to stop and reflect on where we came from and how far we have gone in the digital journey. Today June 30th – National ESIGN DAY in the United States – is such a day. Today we look back upon the history of the signature and how we’ve helped the world advance into the digital age with eSignature.

For many in the U.S., the most iconic signature is that of John Hancock whose larger than life scribble of his name on the Declaration of Independence was intended to send a message to those of his day and all those who followed and read that important document in and throughout U.S. history. As National ESIGN day (June 30) falls so close to the Fourth of July, we thought it only appropriate to look back at some facts that combine both holidays. Namely, those related to the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. (Spoiler alert: Be sure to read to the end to be able to put your very own ‘John Hancock’ on the Declaration of Independence via DocuSign!).

In 2010, the United States celebrated its very first National ESIGN Day. Legislation to recognize this special observance was passed exactly 10 years after President Bill Clinton signed the E-SIGN Act. On June 30, 2000, electronic signatures and online contracts gained legal acceptance.

Just in time for the 7th annual National ESIGN Day, here are 7 fascinating facts about some of the most famous signatures in history.

5: The number of writers of the Declaration of Independence

The “Committee of Five,” was appointed by congress and consisted of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman.

56: The number of signatures on the Declaration of Independence

It’s hard to picture the Declaration of Independence without John Hancock’s infamous signature scrawled across the bottom. While Hancock, Franklin, and Jefferson are some of the first names to come to mind, there were actually 56 signers of the DOI in total.

26: Number of surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence

While an estimated 200 copies were originally printed on July 4, 1776, just 26 known copies of the original Dunlap Broadsides remain today. They are displayed in locations such as Harvard University, The New York Public Library, and of course the National Archives in Washington D.C.  

70: Age of the oldest signer — Benjamin Franklin

There was a 44-year age difference between the oldest signer (Franklin) and the two youngest: Thomas Lynch Jr. and Edward Rutledge — who were both 26 when they signed the Declaration.

2: Number of documents considered the most influential in the writing of the Declaration of Independence

Both the Constitution of Virginia and Virginia’s Declaration of Rights were important resources in the drafting of the Declaration.

$4: Amount paid in 1989 for one copy of the Declaration

A copy of the Declaration of Independence was famously tucked into a picture frame at a flea market in Pennsylvania. The buyer paid $4. That very same copy later sold for $8.1 million.

~30: Approximate number of days it took to collect all the signatures on the Declaration

While several individuals signed the Declaration on July 4, it took approximately 30 days after its initial printing to gather the remainder of the signatures. It’s estimated that all 56 signatures were gathered by August 1776. Imagine if they had DocuSign…

Bonus fact:

85: Percentage of users who complete digital transactions with DocuSign in less than one day — with 53% completed in 15 minutes or less

Benjamin Franklin spoke of “the happiness of knowing what will be known 100 years hence,” and the “discoveries made of which we have at present no conception.” We think he would’ve been fascinated by the rise of today’s technology and the many ways in which it continues to evolve. For a look into how Benjamin Franklin may have worked in the digital age, click here.

We also invite you to DocuSign the Declaration of Independence in celebration of National ESIGN Day here.