Founding Fathers' descendants unite 241 years later to re-create iconic painting

"The Declaration of Independence" was brought to life by descendants of the signers, gathered together by company Ancestry.

It's hard to believe that a bold declaration by a brand new nation would have even more relevance nearly two and a half centuries later.

But America is always changing -- striving to meet the ideals of the Founding Fathers.

John Trumbull's iconic painting, "The Declaration of Independence," shows Thomas Jefferson presenting the first draft to Congress. The document was signed by 56 men in 1776.

Two-hundred-and-forty-one-years later, the portrait was brought to life by descendants of the signers, an evolution of America's colorful palette, gathered together by the company Ancestry.

"When you see the new picture, the new image, it's a picture of diverse people. Black, white, Hispanic, Native American -- a little bit of everything -- Asian, and that's more of a representation of this country," said Shannon Lanier, the sixth great-grandson of President Thomas Jefferson.

Andrea Livingston is half Filipino. She recently learned she's the eighth great granddaughter of Philip Livingston.

"It is a point of pride, but I think we have a long way to go. The ideas that they were creating, the ideas that they were putting into words, we still need to strive to make those ideas real," Livingston said. 

Laura Murphy, Livingston's seventh great-granddaugther, is Andrea Livingston's new found cousin.

"Anything is possible in this country," Murphy said. "If we can build some connection to our history it may give us a greater degree of compassion and empathy and humanity, which is what I think the country needs right now."

Lanier says the phrase "all men are created equal" is a "powerful statement" but he still doesn't think "rings true to a lot of people in this country."

"They don't feel that, sometimes I don't feel that in certain environments, but I think it's something we can strive for. It's something that we can, as a country, try to work hard to get to," Lanier says.

"We are so many different people. We look so different, we are so different, but we are all the same at the same time," Andrea Livingston says.

This story originally appeared on CBS News’ website.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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