America celebrates its birthday on July 4, but believe it or not, what many Americans popularly perceive as our nation’s birthday is not really our nation’s birthday.
It turns out that the initial vote for independence took place on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress passed the Lee Resolution calling for independence.
So, why do we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th?
It turns out that between the initial votes held on July 2 and July 4, there was a lot of debate over the actual wording of the document that would outline the reasons the American colonies were severing ties with Great Britain. During that time, about a fourth of the text was deleted, and various other changes were made.
It was on July 4 that the final version was approved and sent to the printer. Even then, there were some other changes. On July 19, the Continental Congress passed a resolution that inserted the world “unanimous” in the document’s title. The actual signing took place on August 2.
The Declaration then made its way worldwide, with copies being published in England by August 1776. Copies turned up in Florence and Warsaw the following month. A German translation appeared by October, emerging in Switzerland.
France didn’t have a copy arrive until November, 1776, due to the copy being lost. Spanish authorities in the Americas tried to prohibit the Declaration of Independence from being circulated, but Spanish translations began emerging in what are now Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador.
At least 23 other declarations of independence, ranging from Haiti to Rhodesia, drew inspiration from the American document.
In 1870, Congress declared that the 4th of July would be a federal holiday.