This one goes out to all the history sticklers out there: Even though July 4 is the day when Americans take off work and celebrate our independence with grilled food, cold beer, and low-grade over-the-counter explosives, July 2 was the day when our Founders declared themselves independent from the British Empire.
In fact, at the time, John Adams thought that July 2 would be the day that future generations remembered for its significance.
“The Second Day of July 1776,” Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, “will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
That was the day when the delegations present at the Continental Congress voted to adopt the resolution put forward by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia containing a declaration of independence, a call to form foreign alliances, and a call for confederal government.
Here’s what happened at the Continental Congress, as explained by History.com:
On July 1, 1776, debate on the Lee Resolution resumed as planned, with a majority of the delegates favoring the resolution. Congress thought it of the utmost importance that independence be unanimously proclaimed. To ensure this, they delayed the final vote until July 2, when 12 colonial delegations voted in favor of it, with the New York delegates abstaining, unsure of how their constituents would wish them to vote.
Two days later, Thomas Jefferson’s final edited version of the Declaration of Independence was adopted, and the rest, as we all well know, is history.
Yes, the engrossed copy of the declaration, with all final changes in it, is dated July 4. That copy, however, wasn’t signed until August 2 of the same year, which basically means that Americans could get away with holding a month-long celebration of our independence every year if we really wanted one.
Someone really ought to get that petition going.