Today, on July 4th, we celebrate the Independence Day, when the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress in 1776.
However, history is more interesting than just the event and the date.
On June 7, 1776, the senior Virginia member of Congress, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution stating:
“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
Congress adopted the Virginia motion on July 2, 1776, thereby refuting our status as a colony; this is why John Adams believed that we would celebrate our independence on July second, the date of the decision.
The Declaration of Independence was approved two days later, on July 4, 1776.
While the Declaration of Independence is a masterpiece, and I recommend that everyone read it today, it was not the decision, but merely the explanation to the world as to why the decision had been made. Although we have seen many portrayals of all the Founding Fathers assembled together in Independence Hall to sign the document on the fourth of July, most, but not all, signed on August second; one signer, who was not a member of the congress until later in the year, signed in November.
As is often the case, history is more complex, and far more interesting than the snapshot presented in civics class.
* Thanks, once again to Wikipedia. If you use it, kick in a donation—even a dollar helps.