As we approach one of our most honored days (July 4, 1776) we should pause a few moments and remember the significance of events that occurred starting on July 1, 1776 in Philadelphia. It was on that date that John Adams said the beginning of discussions on the drafting of the Declaration of Independence was “the greatest debate of all.” On July 2nd a vote was held to declare independence, with twelve of the thirteen colonies (New York abstained) in agreement. With that vote, the colonies became The United States.
What followed was a long and at sometimes harsh discussion editing and reviewing the Thomas Jefferson drafted manuscript, but agreement was reached on the draft document. The first signatures were rendered on July 4th, 1776. On that date twelve of the thirteen original states adopted the final draft, and it was not until July 9th that New York accepted the document.
Most pictures show all the delegates solemnly signing the famous paper, but that is not factual, because only John Hancock, the President of the 2nd Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson, the Secretary, actually signed on July 4th. It was not until July 19th that the document was ordered to be written on parchment. The formal document was ready August 2nd and the ceremonial signing by all members of the Congress began with those who were in Philadelphia that day and continued during the following weeks as members returned.
Today would be an appropriate one for each of us to re-read our precious Declaration of Independence. It contains only 1,322 words. You can easily read the entire proclamation by entering the following on you computer’s browser:
I just completed my reading and it was a refreshing emotional experience. I wanted to share this with you as this important holiday approaches.