4 Popular Myths About July Fourth And American Independence

Published July 2, 2016
Updated June 30, 2016
July Fourth

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July Fourth is a day for cookouts, pool parties, and patriotism. Though Americans also take this day to appreciate their country’s history, that very history is replete with stubborn, longstanding myths. And when you debunk those myths — especially the four below — you realize that we’ve long been celebrating Independence Day all wrong.

Myth: The Colonies Declared Independence On July Fourth

Second Continental Congress

Wikimedia Commons Robert Edge Pine’s Congress Voting Independence, a painting, circa 1784, depicting the Second Continental Congress voting on the resolution of independence.

Actually, the colonies’ legal separation from Britain came when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence — on July 2, 1776.

The resolution was written by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and read, in part, “These United States 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.”

The resolution passed unanimously; only New York abstained because representatives weren’t sure how their home state’s legislature would want them to vote.

Other colonies hesitated to make the vote when the resolution had been presented to congress previously on June 7. The vote was delayed (until July 2) and in the meantime, the Founding Fathers began drafting the Declaration of Independence.

And when July 2 came and the resolution was passed, independence was declared.

John Adams even wrote a letter to his wife predicting that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” Although Adams was actually there to watch it all happen, history has of course proven him wrong about the date of celebration.

July Fourth has come to be the chosen day because that’s when the actual Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress.

Elisabeth Sherman
Elisabeth Sherman is a writer living in Jersey City, New Jersey.