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Issue 72
Friday, July 2, 2021
Prince William County
Dear Neighbors,

One of the many great things about Prince William County is its close proximity to the capital of the United States. Yet, it could be easy to take that access for granted. How many people across our vast country have never had the opportunity to experience its treasure trove of our nation's history in-person? To many, the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives and John Trumbull's iconic painting by the same name in the Capitol Rotunda, are simply pages in a history book. It's just miles away for us, but for most of the country it's time zones away.

So as we gather with family, friends, and neighbors over the Fourth of July weekend, enjoying cookouts and fireworks, let's all remember to not take things for granted. From the bravery and sacrifice of those who started the fight for our independence 245 years ago, to being able to celebrate differently than we could a year ago, we have much to be grateful for this holiday.

I hope you all have a safe and festive weekend.

In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler
Declaration of Independence
The Signing
The 4th of July is called Independence Day. The one line of text along the bottom edge on the back of the signed Declaration reads, "Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776" (National Archives). So many may think all 56 signatures on the Declaration, or at least most of them, were done on July 4th.

However, according to the National Archives and National Geographic, today the majority of U.S. historians believe it unlikely that the Declaration was signed on July 4. Their position is that the majority of the delegates to Congress didn’t sign the document until August 2, nearly a month after its ratification. It would be remiss to not mention there are a few historians who continue to assert it was signed July 4. They argue that the records of Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, which state it was signed by the delegates on July 4, couldn’t have all been mistaken.
The Painting
If you thought John Trumbull's iconic painting above depicted the singing, you would probably be in good company, but you would be mistaken. Architect of the Capitol explains it represents the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress.

All 56 signers of the Declaration are not depicted. If you took the time to count, you would find there are 47 people in the painting. Of those, 42 were signers and the five other patriots. According to the National Gallery of Art, Trumbull began a smaller version of the painting in July 1786 while visiting Thomas Jefferson in Paris. At that time, 12 signers of the Declaration had already died. Over three decades later, in 1818, when he completed the 12 foot by 18 foot version, only five signers were still living.

One last piece of trivia connected to the painting. After a ten year sabbatical, the $2 bill was reissued in 1976, the year of our bicentennial. While Thomas Jefferson remained on its front, the back was changed to Trumbull's painting (previously it was Monticello). However, due to space constraints six men from the sides of the painting were omitted on the bill.
The Revolution and PWC
Virginia is full of connections to the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson's ties to the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's command of the Continental Army are etched into our country's beginnings. Seven of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Virginians. The Battle of Yorktown, which led directly to the peace negotiations ending the war, was in Virginia.
We have many locations right here in PWC with ties to the Revolutionary War. Twelve sites in PWC and the City of Manassas are designated as part of the Revolutionary War History Trail. The trail connects visitors with the great campaigns and lesser-known sites of the Revolutionary War. Illustrated signs combine storytelling with historic images at each historic site. There are also many Historic Markers in PWC connected to the Revolutionary War and colonial times.
Enjoying Independence Day
If You Still Have Room on Your Calendar
On Friday, July 2, starting at 7:30 pm, you can bring a lawn chair or blanket, a picnic basket, and a enjoy beautiful Virginia night around a campfire with storytelling, history, recreation, and preservation at the Ben Lomond Historic Site in Manassas. The event is $5 per person, children 6 and under are free.

On Saturday, July 3, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, spend a memorable afternoon cuddling up close to baby goats and bunnies at the Little Goat Farm at The Lake in Nokesville. Bottle feeding goats is available. You can also enjoy an hour interacting with the snowy white alpaca Marshmallow, No Drama llama, Cupcake the mini donkey, swimming ducks, pigs, and clucking chickens. Tickets are $40, children 4 and younger are free.

Saturday, July 3, bring your family and friends to this pop-up drive-in movie theater at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge to watch National Treasure under the stars. The gates open at 7:00 pm and the movie will start approximately at 9:00 pm. Tickets are $35 per car.
Ann B. Wheeler was elected Chair At-Large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during the 2019 General Election and assumed office on January 1, 2020. Prince William County is located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., and is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s second-most populous county with approximately 470,000 residents.