Listed under: Things I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know
No one signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.
I know, right? That little fact is blowing my mind right now. Somehow I thought all this time that what we were celebrating was the signing of the Declaration. I believed that we were shooting off fireworks and having backyard barbecues as a way to remember that symbolic moment when we were putting our names to paper saying that we want to be free.
Turns out, not so much. Here’s how it actually went down:
On June 7th, 1776, the Continental Congress met at what would later be known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia made a motion that called for the colonies independence from Great Britain. The issue was debated fiercely but a vote on Mr. Lee’s motion was ultimately postponed.
However, at this meeting, Congress did decide to put together a five-man committee to draft a formal document that would ultimately end up declaring our independence.
Side note shocker: Yep … Thomas Jefferson wasn’t the only one that worked on that document. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman also contributed their ideas and voices to what we have today.
A month later, on July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s motion on independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4th, they voted to accept the final draft of what is our Declaration of Independence.
However, no one signed it that night.
Instead, Congress had a formal copy of the draft made up and it wasn’t until August 2nd, 1776, that it was finally signed.
So what we celebrate on July 4th isn’t the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It isn’t when we voted in favor of becoming an independent nation. It isn’t even the end of the Revolutionary War that actually won us our freedom.
Instead, what we celebrate on July 4th is the approval of the document that explains why we want to be free from Great Britain’s rule.
A document that declares our independence.
So … now you know.