Why July 4?

Yes, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4. But we were in the initial stages of the Revolutionary War, which didn’t officially end until 1783. Why not October 19, when Cornwallis surrendered his troops in 1781? Or November 25 when the last British troops left the colonies in 1783? Or September 3 when the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783? Or January 14 when the Treaty was ratified by Congress in 1784? Or September 17 when the US Constitution was adopted in 1787?

Or even July 2, 1776, when the DoI was actually approved? Or August 2, when it was actually signed?

Edit: Looking at Wiki, it looks like it was primarily a rallying cry during the Revolutionary War - to really impress upon people that we were asserting our independence. Makes sense, but it seems like there’s still a great deal of misunderstanding about the date.

Independence was the key issue - the other events you mentioned just supported that decision. The adoption of the Constitution, for example, wouldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been an independent United States.

And July 4 was the main date for independence. The vote to declare independence was made on July 2 but the actual implementation of that vote was the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

Most likely because that was the date shown on the Declaration of Independence. Although a resolution of independence had been adopted two days before, the document was not publicized the same way the declaration was.

Since all the other dates were later, they would never have been in the running.

Panama, incidentally, celebrates four different patriotic holidays (fiestas patrias) in November:
November 3 (1903) Separation of Panama from Colombia
November 4 (1903) Adoption of national flag
November 10 (1821) First call for independence from Spain in the town of Los Santos (Grito de La Villa de Los Santos).
November 21 (1821) Declaration of Independence from Spain

Since these are followed by Mother’s Day on December 8 and then by Christmas and New Year, nobody gets any work done for the last two months of the year. :slight_smile:

I believe it was signed at various times, as the representatives from different states were available to sign it. As I recall, it took nearly a month before all of them were able & willing to sign. So that would be about your August 2nd date as the time of the last signature.

That all made sense. I watched *1776 *over the weekend, and you can hardly say that’s a musical that ends on a happy note. It’s amazing how dour and somber that event is when you view it in light of the actual circumstances surrounding them.

In Peru, our Independence Day is July 28th 1821 when an Independence proclamation was signed in Lima. There had been previous proclamations before in other cities.
True independence was only achieved after the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9th 1824.

Declarations rule!

It seems to me that the Declaration is the key issue; before that, colonists were objecting to how they were being treated as British citizens. After that, they were objecting to an occupation by a foreign power. As to which Declaration-related date, well, the Fourth is the one on the document. You could easily argue for another date.

I thought it was the day that they figured out how to take down the mother ship using an Apple laptop computer?? :confused:


IIRC John Adams wrote Abigail that July 2 would be the date that it was remembered and it would be celebrated with fireworks and festivities. Of course some wag once suggested that if Adams knew how much fame Jefferson would get for writing the D of I, he would have insisted on writing it.

The engrossed copy of the Declaration (The copy everyone talks about as in the one in the National Archives) was not formally ordered to be made until July 19th and it was ready to be signed on August 2nd. IIRC, it took almost a dozen years after that date to secure all the signatures.

On July 2, IIRC, the Continental Congress resolved that “these colonies are… free and independent states.” Thomas Jefferson, aided by others, then wrote up the document which begins “When in the course of human events…” which spells out the reasons for independence and formalizes the resolution into a declaration. This Declaration was what was enacted on July 4.

Your timeline is off.

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virgina, proposed on June 7, 1776:

Lee Resolution - Wikipedia

Lee’s Resolution was tabled and Congress adjourned.

A Committee of Five was drafted to include Lee’s Resolution into a larger document. Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the bulk of the document between June 11 and June 28, 1776.

Lee’s Resolution for independence was adopted on July 2, 1776. Consideration of the larger document then began. It was revised several times up until July 4, when it was finally adopted.

Thanks for the correction. The point I sought to make remains valid, though – resolution on the 2nd, declaration on the 4th.

Wars are fought and won or lost all the time, throughout history. Most countries have days commemorating a famous battle or the signing of a treaty. But for a colony to formally declare its independence from a world power . . . that’s something for the history books.

The correct date should be April 3 when the US was first recognized by a neutral country:

Treaty of Amity and Commerce (United States–Sweden) - Wikipedia

But don’t they recognize it retroactively, starting when we say it started? That’s the way I think of it. We got our birth certificate then, but we were born when our declaration said we were.

Or to reverse it, it’s like a marriage license, which people sometimes get months before the actual wedding.