Here's how it went. John Adams was the first to propose the idea of our independence; and Thomas Jefferson began drafting the resolution on June 12, 1776. It was read to the Continental Congress on June 28. July 2 was the day Congress voted to declare our independence from England; but they continued to edit and revise the document until the morning of July 4, when the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted.
On that evening, it was sent to a printer who worked through the night producing the copies that were distributed on July 5 to be read throughout the thirteen colonies. (No one knows how many copies were printed that night, but there are 26 copies known to exist today.)
The actual signing ceremony did not take place until August 2, 1776, with John Hancock signing first, in the center of the document, since he was the President of the Continental Congress. The rest of the members signed after him, in the order of the geographic location of the states they represented. New Hampshire, the state at the northernmost end of the Country, signed first, and Georgia, at the southernmost tip, ended it.
So, which date would you have chosen to be celebrated forever more?
John Adams, in a letter to his wife, stated that July 2nd “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade… from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
On July 4, 1777, before they even knew if they would win the war, Colonists celebrated the first Independence Day by setting off rockets, which were the same type of explosive used in war. On that same day, American patriots placed lit candles (the original display of fireworks) on their windowsills to show their love of Country. If anyone left bare windowsills, it signaled that person was loyal to the English crown.
In 1941, July 4 became a legal holiday, and today it is estimated that 150 million hot dogs will be eaten by Americans on any given 4th of July. OK, that fact that really has nothing to do with the choice of the actual date we celebrate, but nonetheless, you have to admit that’s a pretty amazing number.
Oddly, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, within hours of each other
But here’s the important part. Our Founding Fathers both began and ended the Declaration of Independence with references to God.
The first sentence states that when it becomes necessary to dissolve existing political ties in order to assume the separate and equal position to which we are entitled by the laws of nature and of “Nature’s God,” respect requires us to declare the reasons for the separation.
The second sentence states that we stand firmly on the belief that we are entitled to certain naturally occurring rights given to us by our “Creator.”
This is followed by a list of reasons for breaking ties with England; then the final sentence,states: “…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we … pledge … our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Did you get that part? Our Country was founded on a belief in and reliance upon God.
When they signed the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers were literally risking their lives; but they relied on God to support and protect them. They knew that all their belongings would be confiscated, and they would be killed, most probably along with their families, if we lost this struggle for independence.
What are you willing to risk to stand up for your beliefs? And how much do you depend on God to support and protect you, not just in times of crisis, but during every moment of your life?