Myths about the 4th of July
1) Date of Signing…
The common myth is that the Declaration of Independence was signed on the 4th of July 1776. Sadly, this is far from the truth.
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” wrote Adams, in a July 3, 1776 letter to his wife, Abigail.
Poor Adams. He was only off by two days. The Continental Congress actually issued an initial resolution asserting independence from Britain on July 2, which was then revised and finalized on July 4.
However, historians believe that the signing didn’t take place until about a month later. Emily Sneff, research manager of the Declaration Resources Project at Harvard University, writes that 49 of the 56 signers didn’t even add their signatures the declaration until August 2, 1776: “It took several months, if not years, for all of the signatures to be added.”
She cites the Journals of the Continental Congress, which include this August 2 entry: “The declaration of independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed.”
The first announcement of the completion of the form and content of the Declaration was made July 8, 1776.
2) The Revolutionary War was only about the American Colonies
England and France had been at war during the Seven Years War. George Washington learned to command as a colonel in the Colonials fighting the French
England added the taxes to the colonies to try to pay for the war effort. England was going broke.
France ‘helped’ us only to force Britain to dedicate forces away from Canada
3) The Liberty Bell Cracked When it Was rung on the 4th
The actual first announcement was issued on the 8th!
The bell was made in 1751. Records show it was in need of repair. There is no documented evidence when it did crack. The myth was better than truth and saved the officials the expense of repairing it.
4) John Hancock Signed Big to Taunt King George
Hancock was president of the assembly. He was the first to sign. He did sign big. He signed EVERYTHING the same way.
Remember, the Declaration was all done by hand. There were no copiers, typewriters or carbon paper. They would NOT have sent a copy to King George. If they did, does anyone think he would send it back?
5) John Adams Mentioned Thomas Jefferson with his last breath
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were friendly rivals for most of their lives. They became friends when both were in Congress. They became estranged after a contentious campaign in 1800. After they retired, they wrote 158 letters combines over 14 years.
The myth is that John Adams muttered “Jefferson lives” as he died July 4, 1826. It was 50 years to the day after the completion of the document. Problem was, it was not true. Jefferson died a few hours before Adams. Their is also no documented evidence of any death bed statement.
Other “Presidential 4ths” James Monroe died on July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge was born July 4, 1872.