- What is Independence Day?
- Well, in the US, this holiday is a pretty big deal.
- The country’s Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4.
- Still, Fourth of July festivities mark the United States’ declaration of independence from Britain.
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Representatives from the 13 colonies that would band together to form the US debated the breakaway from Britain over the course of a number of hot summer days in Philadelphia.
But, while the Fourth of July is currently the US’s national holiday, the Declaration Independence was issued as an initial resolution on July 2.
On that day, Massachusetts delegate and future US president John Adams was certain that he’d witnessed history – and that the date would live on in memory.
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” wrote Adams, in a July 3, 1776 letter to his wife, Abigail.
Adams ended up being off by two days. The Declaration went through some revisions and was finalised on July 4. But historians believe that the document wasn’t signed until about a month later.
Emily Sneff, research manager of the Declaration Resources Project at Harvard University, wrote that 49 of the 56 signers didn’t even add their signatures to the declaration until August 2, 1776: “It took several months, if not years, for all of the signatures to be added.”
She cited the Journals of the Continental Congress, which include this August 2 entry: “The declaration of independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed.”
So, why do we gather together to blow things up and overeat on the Fourth?
The Declaration was technically approved on that day, and the copies distributed throughout the colonies were dated July 4, 1776.
As a result, that was the date that stuck in people’s minds.
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