The 4th of July Isn’t the “Wrong” Date, You Slack-Jawed Idiot
So to clarify for those of you who will be having a few beers and flapping your gums tonight instead of blowing things up like sensible people: the 4th of July is not the “wrong” day for Independence Day.
The Second Continental Congress passed the “Lee Resolution” on independence on July 2, 1776.
The “Declaration of Independence,” which was the Congress’s formal announcement of the measure to the American people (and, indirectly, to the British government), was submitted to a printer as a finalized draft on July 4, 1776. Most people still wouldn’t hear about it for days, weeks, or even months (this being a few years before the advent of Twitter), but when they did hear about it, it was in the form of an official proclamation dated July 4, 1776.
This has led to some misconceptions. The Declaration was not hastily thrown together in those two days following passage of the Lee Resolution; about a month prior Congress simultaneously agreed to delay a final vote on independence until July and appointed a “Committee of Five” to draft a proclamation of the various reasons for declaring independence.
The Committee presented their draft of the requested declaration to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776. Following passage of the Lee Resolution on July 2, the Continental Congress made several revisions to the Declaration of Independence on July 3, 1776. By morning of July 4, 1776, the Committee of Five had a revised copy ready to send to the printer, which they dated July 4, 1776.
No one knows who actually signed the Declaration when. Realistic historians tend to assume that it involved a bit of scrambling back and forth, and that no one had an actual Declaration of Independence signed by all ratifying members of the Continental Congress until August of that year.
The point here being: we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July because that’s when independence was formally announced — declared, if you will — in America. We don’t celebrate it on July 2nd for the same reason you don’t celebrate your birthday on the date of your conception.
John Adams famously misguessed the date for celebration, with his insider’s eye — to him, the passage of the Lee Resolution that he’d worked so hard to drive through a fractious Congress was the big milestone, prompting him to write to his wife:
“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.”
But as far as Johnny Q. Colonist, whose only source for the news was a broadsheet dated “July 4, 1776,” went, nothing happened until two days after Adams’s big milestone.
And so that is what the majority has agreed on as the date for Independence Day ever since (Congress agreed too, in 1870, when they formalized it as a federal holiday).
And guess what? This is a democracy. The people have spoken.
So shut your nitpicking mouth, stop pretending you know the first goddamn thing about the details of revolution and independence, and go set off some fireworks. They’ll do you good.