Our actual independence from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776 when the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution declaring the United States to be independent from Great Britain.
The Congress then looked at the wording of their statement, whose principal author was Thomas Jefferson. After much debate, the final version was approved on July 4, 1776. That document, entitled “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”, became our Declaration of Independence.
John Adams, who led in the push for independence, wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail on July 3rd, a day after the vote, saying, “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Although he got the date wrong, he did foresee the respect and excitement with which future generations would celebrate their independence. Thank you to those brave men who worked so diligently to preserve our rights.
A couple of interesting facts:
Although Jefferson, Adams and Franklin all wrote that they had signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, most historians believe the August 2, 1776 was the actual date that the Declaration was signed.
Of those who signed the Declaration, two went on to become Presidents of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In a strange coincidence, both men died on the same day, July 4, 1826.
I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July!
- “Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, ‘Had a Declaration…’”. Adams Family Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved June 28, 2009.