The Real 4th of July

July 4, 1776 marks what date?

It’s not the date when our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. That was actually Aug. 2, 1776.

It wasn’t the date that our most eloquent writer Thomas Jefferson crafted it on parchment (an animal skin, not paper). He mussed up his powdered wig on that between June 11-28.

It wasn’t the date that the 13 British colonies declared their independence from the mother country. That was June 2.

Confounded yet?

On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress APPROVED the final text of the Declaration.

There were 56 men who signed it. The first and boldest was, of course, John Hancock. The two youngest were Thomas Lynch and Edward Rutledge, both just 26-years-old from South Carolina. At 70, the oldest was Benjamin Franklin.

Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the famous July 4 vote to approve the document.

But, what did it say?

Jefferson summarized a philosophy of “self-evident truths” and individual liberties that were previously written by John Locke and other contemporary philosophers of the day.

Jefferson further wrote a list of grievances against King George III to justify the break-up between his rule and the colonists. Some of these were spats over laws and rules and the enforcement of them in the colonies.

Many of the grievances were over taxes and tariffs imposed by the crown. From the beginning, Americans objected to taxes and heavy-handed government. (Not much has changed!!!!!!)

Thus a new government was hatched, but first the colonists had to fight and win the Revolutionary War to gain the independence they had declared.

Our firecracker tradition started in Philadelphia in 1777 where bells were rung, guns fired, candles and firecrackers lighted. However, the date wasn’t considered a federal holiday until Congress declared it so in 1941.

Now you know. Happy 4th!