Here we are, another July 4th looming when we celebrate "Independence Day". Time again to ponder "why" don't we celebrate July 2nd? Recall what John Adams stated in his July 3rd letter to Abigail:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
(read the letter in full at: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-02-02-0016)
Adams was responding to the Second Continental Congress having just approved a formal resolution by Richard Henry Lee declaring separation from England on July 2, 1776.
Lee proposed his resolution for dissolving our relationship with the British Crown on June 7, 1776. Four days later Congress established the Committee of Five (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston) to draft what would turn into the Declaration of Independence, should the Virginian’s efforts prevail. (Virginia's effort to get agreement among the colonies to break from England.) On July 2, 1776 12 of the 13 colonies voted to support the resolution for Independence. New York's delegates abstained as they had received no formal instruction on how to vote. One week later the New York Provincial Congress offered its support for independence.
Lee's Resolution, completely hidden in the shadow of the July 4th Declaration, reads:
“Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
When you consider that Congress approved breaking from the British Crown and the document signed on July 2nd, that in effect is arguably our official date of declaring our independence. - we just had not yet informed King George.
With all sincere respect and love for our Declaration of Independence, it was not signed on July 4th. Signings began on August 2, 1776 and continued throughout the year as delegates returned to Philadelphia. There was no signing ceremony, though it is beautifully memorialized in Trumbill's painting.
John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot oil-on-canvas painting in the Capitol Rotunda.
However, what that painting memorializes is much more important:
...in Philadelphia in the year 1776 a momentous, high-minded statement of far-reaching consequence was committed to paper. It was not the decree of a king or a sultan or emperor or czar, or something enacted by a far-distant parliament. It was a declaration of political faith and brave intent freely arrived at by an American congress. And that was something entirely new under the sun.”
(David Cutter, Opinion: Independence Day on July 2? John Adams got it right." July 2, 2018. pbs.org)
Tomorrow, July 2, 2022, take a few minutes to think of our first declaration of independence that was the catalyst for our Declaration of Independence.