Why Do We Celebrate Our Independence On The Fourth Of July?

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I hope you have a happy and safe holiday.  God bless America!

Today I thought I’d share a little known story about the 4th of July.

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Most people assume that because we celebrate on the 4th, that it’s the day our founding fathers actually voted to approve a resolution of independence, and that the declaration of independence was drafted and signed the same day as well.  That isn’t the case, and in fact many didn’t sign it until later.  Read on for the rest of the story.

Why Do We Celebrate Independence On The 4th Of July?

The Declaration of Independence was an important document, but it was a vote in a closed session of Congress that approved a resolution of independence on the 2nd of July. The Declaration of Independence was debated and revised and approved of on the 4th.  It wasn’t signed by all of the delegates until almost a month later.

From Wikipedia:

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.  After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

“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.”

Adams’ prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

One of the most enduring myths about Independence Day is that Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  The myth had become so firmly established that, decades after the event and nearing the end of their lives, even the elderly Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had come to believe that they and the other delegates had signed the Declaration on the fourth. Most delegates actually signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776. In a remarkable series of coincidences, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two founding fathers of the United States and the only two men who signed the Declaration of Independence to become president, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the United States’ 50th anniversary.

While the exact dates of the United States independence may be forgotten by many, I think most of us are still grateful for this country, and what it has meant for freedom and prosperity.

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Last Edited: 7th July 2014

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  1. Tim says

    Great post, Peter. Our founding documents are under attach, and increasingly being ignored whenever politically convenient. Our liberties are being taken away and our very way of life is in jeopardy because of our failure to hold these documents with the same regard as our founders, and above all, our refusal to give God glory. Our founders lived under the tyranny of the British crown and held freedom very dear. I just wonder how long it will be, or what it is going to take before the American people wake up and re-establish respect for the rule of law that our founders and generations following gave their lives to establish and defend. Thanks for the reminder.

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