It is the 236th anniversary of the Second Continental Congress’ approval of the Declaration of Independence. The 4th of July is erroneously referred to as commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The document is dated July 4, 1776, but most delegates signed it on August 2. July 2 is actually the pivotal day in this nation’s founding. On that date, the Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence.
In fact, on July 3 the great John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: “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.”
Poor John was off by two days. No one knows why July 2 was supplanted by the 4th, but it happened early. If anything, we can blame Philadelphia. On July 4, 1777 Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, then a year later General George Washington marked the holiday with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute on the 4th.
Since the celebration on the 4th rather than the 2nd happened so early, the myth of the 4th became firmly entrenched. Even John Adams had come to believe later on in life that he and the other delegates had signed the document on July 4.