The American Independence Day Should Be July 2

“Hail! Independence, hail! Heaven’s next best gift, / To that of life and an immortal soul!” โ€”James Thomson, Liberty, Part V

In A Nutshell

Independence Day is well known to be the day that America declared their independence from Great Britain. But if that’s the definition of the holiday, it should actually be celebrated on July 2. That was the day that delegates from the colonies assembled in Philadelphia and voted a technically unanimous vote to declare themselves independent from the rule of Great Britain’s monarchy. We only use July 4 because that’s the date on the Declaration of Independence—and that wasn’t even actually signed until August 2.

The Whole Bushel

July 4 has long been known as the American Independence Day; it’s a day of parades, backyard barbecues, and fireworks. But actually, we’ve been technically celebrating our independence from Great Britain on the wrong day.

The only reason that we recognize July 4 as our Independence Day is because that is what’s written on the Declaration of Independence. Lofty credentials, for sure, but the document wasn’t even signed until August 2; in total, 56 Congressional delegates did sign the document, but not all of them even signed by the end of that month. It’s believed that the last person to sign—Thomas McKean of Delaware—didn’t even do so until sometime in 1777.

So that famous painting of delegates gathered in Philadelphia to sign Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence on July 4? Never happened.

But it turns out that July 2 has a much better claim to being the actual Independence Day. It was then that the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to vote on whether or not an official movement of independence from Britain should be declared. The vote from the delegates was unanimous—but New York abstained, still unsure of whether or not the state’s constituents would want their delegates to approve or disapprove the motion.

And it was that day that the Pennsylvania Evening Post published news that America had declared itself free from British rule, and it was also that day that John Adams wrote would be one of the most memorable, important days in American history.

Independence Day was almost June 7; that was the first time the resolution was presented to Congress. It wasn’t even voted on, though, as it was very, very clear that South Carolina, New Jersey, New York (which later abstained), Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania itself weren’t going to be voting in favor of the declaration. The other delegates were certain that the holdout delegates and their respective states would eventually change their minds, so the vote was postponed a month.

The first Independence Day celebrations weren’t even until July 8, 1776. The city of Philadelphia organized parades and a firearms display, in true American fashion. And George Washington himself didn’t hear about the vote until July 9. And word didn’t even reach the British government until August 30.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, it was almost a year before to the day—July 5, 1775—that Congress was drafting, voting on and adopting quite a different proposal. The Olive Branch Petition was adopted on that day, an appeal to England’s King George III that addressed the colonists’ concerns. A carefully worded document, it made it clear that they were hoping for a reconciliation to avoid a complete break with England. It was evident that their discontent was not with the king himself, but the policies implemented by those beneath him. In fact, it ended with this: โ€œThat your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendents may govern your Dominions with honour to themselves and happiness to their subjects, it is our sincere prayer.โ€

Show Me The Proof

Washington Post: Why July 2 is really Americaโ€™s independence day
This Day in History: Congress votes for independence
This Day in History: Congress adopts Olive Branch petition

  • :)

    big deal. what’s important is that it’s being celebrated

    • Lisa 39

      Exactly, just pick a date and be done with it, thats what they did with christmas and that still works ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Joseph

        I was thinking exactly the same thing. It doesn’t really matter that much. They wanted the official date of independence to be July 4th so, that’s the date. I’m sure even other countries would debate the official day, but too bad.

  • Joseph

    I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get from this article. It was probably signed by most of the delegates on July 4th and that was the date on the document. It’s not like they could create a event on Facebook and hop on a plane. Independence day is a federal holiday that takes place on July 4th, that’s the day it should be.

    • Julian Licciardi

      It was probably WRITTEN on July 4th. I think it makes sense that it was signed a bit later, regarding it took a lot more time to travel around in those days.

      • Joseph

        Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin. and John Adams all wrote that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th. I’ll just take their word for it.

  • Hillyard

    The Declaration of Independence is dated July 4, 1776. That’s why the holiday is on the 4th of July, this has been good enough for everyone for over 200 years. The fact that the congress voted earlier to declare independence and that the declaration wasn’t signed until later is well known but in the long run meaningless.

  • rincewind

    There is a reason why legal documents must be correctly dated. Why bother otherwise? Such a document with a incorrect date of signing becomes invalid under law. Does this mean that technically England still owns the USA? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Joseph


    • Lisa 39

      The way things are now do you think they really want to?

    • Nathaniel A.

      The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document. No laws were set forth, it was merely the delegates DECLARING their independence, as the title of it says. A legally binding document that allows the U.S. to be independent was likely written sometime after the Battle of Yorktown.

  • Scott

    Actually our real Independence Day should technically be January 14th. That’s when the Treaty of Paris was ratified and we actually officially were an independent nation.

    • Patriotic Dane

      Useless fact time!

      So yeah, here in Denmark we have no National Day because no one really knows when Denmark was founded (it’s at least 1000 years old) Not only that but we have about 5 constitutions (It was written five times!) So yeah… our national day doesn’t exist, besides you can find all five of them in the Folketing (The National Parliament and yes, it literally means The People’s Thing)

      • Lisa 39

        On behalf of americans everywhere (well, me at least) i would like to extend an invitation to denmark (patriotic dane at least) to share our independance day, that way we can party together without leaving our homes! July 4th, don’t forget to mark your calendar!

        • Patriotic Dane

          I’ll bring the flags!

          • Lisa 39

            Awesome! I’ll make my world famous (not that its been proven in court, just sayin) potato salad and alot of beer!

          • Patriotic Dane

            The cheap beer is on the house!

          • Lisa 39

            Yay! Well now we have a plan, it’ll be fun!

      • Scott

        Well, I love useless facts but I must say that’s not all that useless. It’s rather interesting. I’m aware that the Kingdom of Denmark has been around since at least 1000ad but I was unaware that the actual date of the founding is unknown.

        • Patriotic Dane


  • mo

    What’s next in obvious facts? Easter isn’t really Jesus’ resurrection day? Christmas isn’t really his birthday? Thanksgiving wasn’t on a Thursday? Odd enough the article then tries to tell us one specific day that everything was drafted, signed and adopted. Sure, that only took one afternoon, right?

  • DonitaBlessing

    In the date of 2 July for every American to celebrate the Independence from the Great Britain.

  • Passin’ Through

    This article is too American.

    • Lisa 39

      Umm, passin through, this article is about america ๐Ÿ˜‰