WTF Fun Fact 13440 – The Independence Day Date

If some of the U.S.’s founding fathers got their way, Americans the Independence Day date would be the 2nd of July.

Why is the U.S. Independence Day date the 4th of July?

On a blistering summer day in Philadelphia in the year 1776, a group of men in the Second Continental Congress convened. These “founding fathers” were ready to sever the bonds with their British overlords. This day was July 2nd, a date largely forgotten in the grand narrative of American independence.

Two of these influential men, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were sticklers for precision. They believed that July 2nd, not July 4th, should ring be America’s Independence Day. The Congress voted for independence on this day, – kind of a no-brainer, right?

Jefferson and Adams, who would later become presidents, firmly considered July 2nd to the true birth of American freedom.

Voting for Independence

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence from British rule. This momentous decision effectively set the 13 colonies on the path to becoming the United States of America. An event of this magnitude surely deserved to be marked in history.

However, the document Americans now revere as the Declaration of Independence was finalized and formally adopted two days later on July 4th. This date engraved on the top of the document created a longstanding association with the birth of American independence. It was the date that was eventually printed in newspapers, establishing the Fourth of July in the collective consciousness of the public.

Arguing over the Inependence Day date

Jefferson and Adams harbored their beliefs passionately. Adams even went to the extent of reportedly turning down invitations to participate in Fourth of July events as a form of silent protest. He firmly believed that the celebrations were simply on the wrong day.

In a bizarre twist of fate, both Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The coincidence of their deaths on this date further romanticized the idea of July 4th as Independence Day.

Over the years, the debate has lost much of its steam. Americans now celebrate the Fourth of July Independence Day. The story of July 2nd remains a fascinating footnote in the saga of American independence, a testament to the complex and sometimes contentious process that birthed the nation we know today.

Does the Independence Day date really matter?

In the grand scheme of things, whether Independence Day falls on the second or fourth of July might seem trivial. Still, this tale serves as a potent reminder of the spirited debates and diverse perspectives that shaped the foundation of the United States.

And the next time you’re watching fireworks light up the night sky on the Fourth of July, remember the tale of July 2nd.

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Source: “When is the real Independence Day: July 2 or July 4?” — National Constitution Center