What Really Happened on July 4, 1776?
Some surprising facts about July 4th
Guest Blog by Lisa Yauch
Every year, most Americans celebrate the Fourth of July in recognition of Independence Day, when we declared our sovereignty from Great Britain and the birth of the United States of America.
But did you know…
- Our predecessors actually began fighting for our freedom, during the American Revolution, in April 1775
- One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, completed the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776
- The Continental Congress decided it was in our best interest to declare independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress finally approved wording of the Declaration of Independence after deliberating over the copy for two days following its initial submission on July 2. And so July 4 became the date included in the actual document. It also happened this was the date printed on original copies of this historic piece, which was circulated throughout the new nation.
The formal and handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence, which is on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., was actually signed by our founding forefathers in August of 1776. Great Britain did not receive official notification and a copy of the document until November of 1776. Talk about snail mail!
How July 4 became an official holiday
Approximately 15-20 years after the Declaration of Independence was drafted, people did not celebrate much as you might imagine they would have. The idea was very new and a wave of political unrest was surfacing.
- 1790s – The Declaration was seen as controversial and two main parties (the Democrat-Republicans, who sided with Jefferson and the other, the Federalists, who did not) were bitterly divided
- Following the War of 1812, the Federalist Party began to unravel and new parties of the 1820/30s became more supportive of the Democrat-Republicans; printed copies of the Declaration once again began circulating throughout the nation
- Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both uncannily died on July 4, 1826, may have helped spur the notion of an important date to be recognized and celebrated
- The Fourth of July became more common and celebrated as the years went by
- In 1870, (almost 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was written!) Congress declared July 4 to be an official, national holiday
While you celebrate the freedom of our great nation this coming Fourth of July, whether with ceremonies, fireworks, spending time with family and friends, just remember, you could have been celebrating it two days sooner had history dictated otherwise.
Sources – Google, constitutionfacts.com, Wikipedia
Cover image via coversfortimeline
Lisa is the Manager of Communications for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC