July 4th is one of the most popular holidays for Americans. Coming in the middle of the summer our country celebrates the decision by the founding fathers in 1776 to declare independence from England with picnics, barbecues and fireworks. But July 4th was not always the unanimous date to celebrate independence. John Adams, who would become the second president, refused to recognize July 4th and instead adamantly favored July 2nd when the Continental Congress took the vote declaring independence. According to Adams, July 4th was only the day when all the final edits to the document were completed and approved by a group of five men tasked with agreeing on the proper wording. To further complicate matters, the final version of the Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2, 1776 by 56 men, but not every former colony agreed on the action to separate from England. Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted no, Delaware was undecided, and New York abstained. Although there were outbreaks of celebration on July 4 with gunshots and fireworks, especially in Philadelphia, it was not until 1938 that Independence Day became a national holiday. 26 copies of the Declaration of Independence remain; one, in fact, was found behind a framed picture at a yard sale in Pennsylvania with the lucky person paying $4 for the precious document. He later sold the document for $ 8.1 million. Now that’s a way to celebrate July 4th.

By Dr. Michael Kryzanek, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Bridgewater State University