We celebrate July fourth as Independence Day because that's the day that Congress finally approved the language explaining the reasons for the separation, and it's the date of the final version of the text that appears at the top of the Declaration of Independence, but July 2, 1776 is the actual date of America's freedom.
The scene you see in the John Trumbull's famous painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence is just a painting, but it never happened that way. The painting includes people who didn't sign the Declaration of Independence and omits people who did sign. Besides, while Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams all verified that the Declaration was signed on July 4, all 56 signers were not present and signed on the that day. Some probably signed the document as late as Aug. 2.
Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but he thought someone else was right for the job. Jefferson reluctantly accepted the responsibility, but he didn't want it. Jefferson was among the committee of five men Congress selected to draft the separation document: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Four of the five agreed that John Adams was the natural choice to write the document. However, Adams convinced Jefferson to write the words that have gone down in history.
It is interesting that history depicts Jefferson's words of the Declaration of Independence, but the handwriting we see is not the handwriting of Jefferson. It is the penmanship of Timothy Matlack who was hired to be the clerk of the Second Continental Congress in 1775. He was given the task of copying the text onto parchment for formal signature. That's the image we see today.
We celebrate July 4 as a day of independence, but did you know that three presidents died on July 4? Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe all died on July 4. Jefferson and Adams died hours apart on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day of the celebration of the first Independence Day. James Monroe died a few years later, on July 4, 1831, the last Founding Father to serve as President of the United States.
We often say, "Sign your John Hancock" because while Hancock was not a president, he served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was one of the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. John Hancock's signature was the largest and most stylish. That's why the term "John Hancock" in the United States is synonym for signature.
According to fourth of July trivia, people celebrate the fourth of July with parades, cookouts and fireworks. Each year about 87 percent of people grill. About 150 million hotdogs are consumed, and about 700 million pounds of chicken. However, red meat or pork comes in with only 190 million pounds. Americans spend around $211 million on fireworks.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!