The Fourth of July celebrates the founding of the United States when, on this date in 1776, members of the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence. Some controversy exists as to the exact date the Declaration of Independence was signed, but it is commonly accepted that Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams (among others), all signed the document on July 4th, while remaining signatures were added on July 19th and August 2nd. Some members of Congress were not present on the 4th and delegates from New York did not sign because they had not received instructions from Albany in time.
This act of bravery came with great sacrifice. Of the 56 signatories, 5 were captured by the British and killed, 12 had their homes searched and burned, 2 lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, 3 had their sons captured by the British, and 9 fought and died in the Revolutionary War. 24 singers were lawyers, 11 were merchants, and 9 were farmers. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence with some input from John Adams. Both men died on July 4th, 1826.
As we celebrate Independence Day, take a moment to consider the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, which has been described as the most potent and consequential words in American history, and referenced by great Americans like President Abraham Lincoln and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (capitalization in original).