Happy Independence Day!
"On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to declare that the 13 American colonies were independent states and no longer part of the British Empire. The next day, John Adams predicted in a letter to his wife, Abigail,
"The second day of July, 1776, will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Okay, so Adams was a little off. The Fourth was the day Congress voted to issue the document.
And for the history-challenged out there, Jefferson only wrote the first draft, then it went into a conference committee for editin’ and compromise until everyone was happy (‘cept Jefferson, who saw his condemnation of the slave trade removed). After that, Congress printed up copies of the declaration and mailed them to local press and state governments so they could convince the rest of the country that thumbin’ their nose at King George III was a good idea. (Things haven’t changed much over the years, have they?)
But—no one signed it until August 2.
"The famous signatures weren't included, and there was a good reason: they hadn't been affixed to the document yet. In fact, the historic parchment version of the Declaration wouldn't even come into existence until sometime after July 19, when Congress voted that the official declaration should be "engrossed on parchment" and "signed by every member of Congress." According to records, that happened on August 2, with out-of-town stragglers adding their names over weeks and months after that. Of the roughly 50 people who voted for independence on July 2, only 42 were still in office on August 2 to sign the Declaration of Independence, so the eight new members signed, too, even though they hadn't voted for it."
Read the whole article here.
posted by Harrison at 9:00 AM