Since we’re fast approaching Independence Day, I thought this myth was an appropriate one to review.
Congress voted for independence July 2, not July 4. True, it approved the Declaration on the fourth. But that was not the main event. The independence vote was separate from the vote to approve the Declaration.
“I wouldn’t go so far to call the Declaration a press release. But it was a release to the world letting it know what had happened and why,” [historian William] Hogeland said. “The really big day was July 2. That was the climax.
Writing to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, John Adams said that from then on “the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”
More than likely, no one signed the Declaration on July 4. The handwritten parchment tourists line up to see at the National Archives was ready August 2. Then, and only then, did the president of Congress apply his John Hancock, many delegates following suit. Other members were inking it well into October.”
Read the entire article by Gil Klein at http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Winter11/painting.cfm