On July 2, 1776 the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted for independence thus birthing a new nation, the United States of America. As John Adams wrote,
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
So how are you celebrating Independence Day today?
Wait? You’re not celebrating until July 4th, a date on which nothing of great significance. Sure, the document known as the Declaration of Independence was approved on that day, but the momentous event of actually declaring independence already happened on July 2nd. The idea of the Declaration being written, presented to Congress, and signed on July 4th as depicted in art never happened that way. The Declaration was written over the course of June, presented on June 28th, and signed on August 2nd (with other delegates adding names through the autumn).
So we celebrate our nation’s independence on the wrong day. Still we can make it work. We love our country and we love to celebrate, so why not have two days? We can celebrate the real Independence Day or Adams’ Independence Day on July 2nd and the conventional wisdom Independence Day or Declaration of Independence Day on July 4th.
Having two Independence Days solves the “July 4th falls on a Wednesday problem.” When July 4 falls on Monday or Friday we celebrate on July 4th. When July 2nd falls on a Monday or Friday we celebrate on July 2nd. When July 2nd is Sunday and July 4th is Tuesday we split the difference and observe Independence Day on July 3rd. Same thing when July 2nd is on Thursday and July 4th on Saturday. And when July 2nd is Tuesday and July 4th is Thursday it’s a Jubilee Year and we all take the entire week off!
EDIT ON JULY 3: I didn’t see it until today but Mallard Fillmore’s Birthday wrote a much better July 2nd Independence Day blog post than mine. Read it now!
- Independence Day (2007)
- Book Review: The Declaration of Independence: A Global History by David Armitage