The National Constitution Center reminds us that it is only through an accident of history that July 4 is our Independence Day.
John Adams had high hopes for July 2. That was the day, after all, when the Continental Congress met inside Independence Hall and passed Richard Henry Lee’s resolution on American independence, that “these United Colonies… 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.”
Independence Day might also have been July 8. On that day, for the first time, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud to the citizens of Philadelphia by Colonel John Nixon in what is now called Independence Square.
The Pennsylvania Evening Post published news of the adoption of Lee’s resolution on July 2, and the Pennsylvania Gazette carried it the next day, but the text of the document formally announcing the colonies’ declaration of independence was not approved until July 4.