It is a day Americans know well, but today we celebrate our nation’s separation from the British Empire with alcohol, barbecues, and fireworks. Very few take the time to remember the struggles of our Founding Fathers over two centuries ago.
When King George III refused to acknowledge the many grievances of the American colonists, they declared themselves to be separate from the British Empire in a document known as The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, known commonly today as the Declaration of Independence. (You can see the original name on the document copy below) Penned by Thomas Jefferson, the youngest of the delegates of the Continental Congress, and edited with the help of John Adams and Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the final draft was adopted by Congress on the Second of July and formally signed by all members during the summer, not on one day as is commonly thought. Months prior in January 1776, when it became clear that there was no way for the Americans to peacefully negotiate with the King, John Adams, a lawyer from Massachusetts and cousin to Patriot Samuel Adams, persuaded Congress to have his friend and fellow delegate Thomas Jefferson, a planter from Virginia, write the first draft since he knew the younger man to have a great way with words. It took several tiring and stressful weeks, but soon, the document was completed and unanimously agreed upon by all delegates of all 13 states. This is seen as the defining moment of the American Revolution, though the war itself did not end until 1778.
The real Independence Day is in fact July Second, however the date instead commemorates the date on which the Declaration’s existence was made public.