On July 2, 1776, the American colonies formally declared their independence from Great Britain. The Resolution of Independence had been proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia in June. Once it was approved the Second Continental Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision.
The Declaration had been prepared by a Committee of Five – John Adams, of Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, and Robert Livingston, of New York.
While Jefferson consulted extensively with the other four members, he largely wrote the Declaration of Independence in isolation between June 11, 1776, and June 28, 1776.
Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, removing Jefferson’s vigorous denunciation of King George III for importing the slave trade, before finally approving it two days later on July 4, 1776.
Ironically, John Adams wrote his wife Abigail day earlier saying:
“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.”
He was off by two days. Americans have celebrated Independence Day on July 4, the date shown on the Declaration of Independence from the start.
Happy Independence Day! God Bless America!