The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is a major holiday for Americans. It’s the day we celebrate the Colonies’ declaring their independence from England, a move that would eventually result in the formation of the United States. How much do you know about American history and the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Let’s talk trivia.
Fun Facts about Independence Day
Why July 4th?
The Continental Congress actually voted to declare independence on July 2nd, which, by rights, means we should probably be celebrating our independence two days earlier. In fact, John Adams wrote on July 3rd, 1776, that July 2nd would go down in history as a momentous day. “We’ll celebrate it with parades and pomp and bells ringing and fireworks,” wrote Adams.
However, it wasn’t until two days later that the Congress accepted Thomas Jefferson’s formal Declaration of Independence, making that the date that people would later associate with American independence and the start of the Revolution.
The Pursuit of Happiness
In Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration, there was no mention of the “pursuit of happiness.” Instead, the document announced how all men were united in the pursuits of life, liberty and property. That last bit about property had been around for ages and was common to see in the writings of Liberal thinkers of the era. However, Jefferson decided to change the wording at the last minute, resulting in the Declaration we all know today.
There was no formal signing of the Declaration on the 4th of July 1776, but instead, a “fair copy” was drafted which was signed by then-president of the Continental Congress John Hancock. Hancock’s signature on the gross copy, seen in the National Archives in Washington DC, is notably massive and stylish compared to those around it, leading to his name being synonymous with “signature” in America.
When Hancock signed the document on July 4th, his signature was attested by Charles Thompson, then secretary of the Continental Congress. As such, when people first saw the printed and distributed copies of the Declaration, the only two names found attached to the treasonous document were those of Hancock and Thompson. It wouldn’t be until October of that same year that various other “founding fathers,” such as Washington and Franklin, would all have their signature noted on the gross copy.