A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/22)
“There’s no ‘I’ in denial” (10/22)
“I walked past a homeless guy with a sign that read, ‘One day, this could be you‘“ (10/22)
“Your bank account is the adult version of your report card” (10/22)
“Why did the girl sit on her watch?"/"She wanted to be on time.” (10/22)
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Entry from April 17, 2011
“Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?"/"At the bottom.”

It’s one of the oldest jokes told about American political history:

Teacher—Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Student—At the bottom (of the page).


The joke has been cited in print since at least 1896 and is still in circulation.


15 October 1896, Tyrone (PA) Daily Herald, pg. 1, col. 2:
Where It Was Signed.
A Tyrone teacher was explaining to his class some interesting points in American history and incidentally questioning his pupils to find out what they knew of the history. Finally he asked them the question, “Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?”

There was a prolonged and profound silence among the youngsters.

“Doesn’t any one of you know where the Declaration of Independence was signed?” repeated the teacher.

“Guess I know,” at length ventured one little fellow in the back row.

“Well, where was it?”

“I s’pose,” replied the boy, “it was at the bottom.”

19 March 1902, Aberdeen (SD) Daily News, pg. 4, col. 3:
Teacher—“James, where was the Declaration of Independence signed?”
James—“Please, ma’am, at the bottom.”—Indianapolis News. 

2 August 1902, Newport (RI) Mercury, pg. 7, col. 1:
Teacher—Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Dot—On the table.

Google Books
November 1902, Oregon Teachers’ Monthly, pg. 4, col. 2:
The class In history had been reading about the Declaration of Independence, and the teacher began asking questions regarding It. “Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?” was the first question. Dead silence for a moment, and then a small voice exclaimed: “At the bottom, miss.”—The Little Chronicle.

Google Books
October 1903, Pattern Makers’ Journal, pg. 24, col. 1:
Teacher — Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Tommy — At the bottom.

Google Books
Apeil 1905, Official journal of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, pg. 254, col. 2:
The teacher—“And now, Sammy, where was the Declaration of Independence signed?”
Sammy—“At de bottom.”—The Educational Review.

Google News Archive
22 December 1924, Prescott (AZ) Evening Courier, pg. 4, col. 3:
Teacher: Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Pupil: At the bottom.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, April 17, 2011 • Permalink