The Founding Fathers actually declared independence on July 2.

  • Independence Hall
Independence Hall
Keith Lance/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Independence Day is celebrated in an explosion of fireworks in the U.S. every year on the Fourth of July, but America’s Founding Fathers actually voted to break free from Great Britain two days earlier, on July 2, 1776. The process began nearly a month before that, when the Second Continental Congress introduced a motion calling for independence on June 7, 1776. After weeks of debate, a five-person committee set out to write a statement in favor of breaking from Great Britain. The star-studded committee included future Presidents and longtime rivals Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, as well as Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston of New York. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress officially voted to declare independence. In fact, Adams was adamant that the ensuing celebrations should be held on the day of the vote: He wrote that July 2 would be “the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.” 

What actually happened on July 4, 1776, was that the Second Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which was signed later by 56 leaders from across the colonies. The two days in between July 2 and July 4 were spent working on edits to the document. Almost a quarter of Jefferson’s original words were cut, much to his chagrin — he referred to the revisions as “mutilations.” On this point even Adams agreed with him, observing that “they obliterated some of the best of it.” 

You may also like