Fourth is fine to hold national celebration
Taking the cue from John Adams, Americans celebrate independence but not on the date that Adams foresaw.
John Adams got it right when he wrote to his wife Abigail that Independence Day "ought to be solemnized with pomp, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever." He just got the date wrong -- July 2.
As Adams got right, the Continental Congress did indeed declare American independence on July 2, 1776, with nine colonies voting aye. Two days later, after the declaration had been revised, all 12 colonies represented agreed; New York joined after 15 days, according to historian David Waldstreicher.
John Trumbull also got it wrong when he depicted the signing of the declaration in a painting that now hangs in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. "No such scene, with all the delegates present, ever occurred at Philadelphia," David McCullough noted in his biography of John Adams. Most of the delegates signed the document on Aug. 2, after a clean copy had been produced.
Waldstreicher notes that Congress did not discuss celebrating the new country's anniversary until July 3, 1777, so it took place the next day. After 232 years, it's too late to change the holiday. Anyway, the Second of July just doesn't have the same ring to it.
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