On July 4, 1776, the American colonies were declared free of British rule by the Second Continental Congress with the passage of the Declaration of Independence. Here are 5 things you didn't know about Independence Day...
John Adams Thought July 2nd Would Become Independence Day
It is widely believed that America’s first Continental Congress declared their independence from the British monarchy on July 4th, 1776. However, the official vote actually took place two days before on July 2nd. In a letter that John Adams wrote on July 3, 1777, to Abigail, his wife, he predicted that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
The Declaration of Independence Wasn’t Fully Signed on The Fourth of July It is often believed that everyone signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, a moment that’s often portrayed in popular paintings. However, it took an entire month to get all 56 delegates together to put their “John Hancock” on the document. In fact, the only person to sign the document on July 4th was also its first signer: John Hancock.
Three American Presidents Died on Independence Day James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all passed away on the 4th, and Jefferson and Adams passed away within a few hours of each other in 1826. Their deaths occurred 50 years after the date that the Second Continental Congress passed the Declaration. America’s fifth president, James Monroe, passed away on the same day five years later.
About That “Pursuit of Happiness”… Arguably the most famous line in the Declaration of Independence is the second sentence of the preamble, which begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But as originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the pursuit was not of happiness, but of “Property.” As the story goes, Benjamin Franklin convinced Jefferson to make the change because “property” was too “narrow” a notion.
During World War II, the Declaration Was Stashed Away at Fort Knox. Following the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the Declaration, along with the U.S. Constitution, was removed from Washington, D.C. for safety. The two documents traveled with a contingent of armed guards and were packed in special padlocked containers that were lead sealed and put into an even larger box. With additional protection supplied by the Secret Service, the documents were taken by train to Louisville, Kentucky, and escorted by 13th Armored Division cavalry troops to Fort Knox.