Did You Know?!
1. July 4 is not technically our day of independence: On the most semantic level, the 13 original colonies were legally liberated from England’s rule on July 2, 1776 in a closed session of Congress.
It took the Second Continental Congress two more days to revise the most famous of American documents; July 4 was the day the Declaration of Independence was given final approval.
2. The first Independence Day was celebrated on July 8, 1776: Although the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 4, 1776, it was not made public until July 8. The bells of Philadelphia -- the Liberty Bell included -- rang to summon citizens to Independence Hall for the very first public reading of the document.
The Declaration of Independence was read that day by Colonel John Nixon, who, less than a year later, would be made a brigadier general of the Continental Army.
Contrary to popular belief, the Liberty Bell did not ring on July 4, 1776 to mark the nation’s independence because the Declaration was not yet made public -- and wouldn’t be for another four days.
3. Three Presidents died on the Fourth of July: Three U.S. presidents actually died on July 4. Two of them passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The two had been political rivals and then friends later in life. The other to share the distinction was James Monroe, who died July 4, 1831.
4. The signers of the Declaration of Independence did not sign on July 4, 1776: The idea of the 56 signers being in the same room at the same time on our day of independence is, unfortunately, a myth.
The official signing event took place on August 2, 1776 when 50 men signed the document. It took several months before all 56 finally signed; the last, Thomas McKean, signed in January of 1777, some seven months after the document was approved by Congress.
Even after signing, the names of the signers were withheld from the public for more than six months to protect their identities. The Revolutionary War was still going on, and if the signers were discovered, the treasonable act could have resulted in their deaths.