Monday, July 02, 2007

July 2, 1776..The date we voted for independence. It was Richard Henry Lee's resolution that would become the basis for the document

Here above is the record of the vote on independence of July 2, 1776. Below you will see Lee's resolution enlarged. (Nat'l Archives)
The first printing of Declaration available on July 5, 1776...It was made by the printer John Dunlap during the evening of July 4th.
The Declaration we know. It was not made or signed till August 2, 1776 and signed by others till 1781. The is a view of a wet ink process made in 1820's. While it did make a good copy of the document, it damaged the original tremendously.

"The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
This is what John Adams wrote to his wife on the 3rd of July after the vote for independence was approved.

However, the 4th became the day of days as the first print which was not fancy was signed by the President (John Hancock) and the Secretary of the Congress.
The first copies of the Declaration were available on the 5th of July. It was read around the colonies for weeks afterward.
It is interesting to note that the official document that we know of that is in the National Archives was not signed by the delegates till August 2, 1776. However there were others still signing it till 1781!
There was no major signing of the declaration till August 2. As the document we know of was not ready till then. The only persons who signed on July 4 were John Hancock and Thompson the secretary of Congress.
So while we talk of July 4th as the date we declared Independence, you will see that it was really the 2nd, and that the document we always associate with the signing on July 4th, was not signed till the following month and in some cases years.
So in a way the 2nd is correct. But to everyone, including Adams and Jefferson. The 4th became the date to honor their great work.
So much so that each pushed themselves to stay alive to die on that day.........Fifty years after it was announced.
May I end this with the words of John Adams on July 4, 1826, as he lay dying......
"Is it the 4th? It is great day, it is a good day" Indeed it is!