What happened on July 4th, 1776? Not much. Here’s a helpful timeline of the beginning of our nation:
April 1775: The Revolutionary War started
June 1776: Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the Declaration of Independence. Over the course of June, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin edited the draft Declaration.
July 2, 1776: The day that the Continental Congress actually voted for independence. On July 2nd the Philadelphia Evening Post stated that “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.” John Adams, in his writings, even noted that July 2 would be remembered in the annals of American history and would be marked with fireworks and celebrations.
July 4, 1776: The date final version of the Declaration of Independence was approved, so it was dated July 4th. It is also the date that the copies of the document were printed and later shipped out to the colonies for publication and distribution. These are called “Dunlap Broadsides” as Dunlap was the printer. About 200 were printed and 26 still exist.
August 2, 1776: This when most of the Constitutional Congress Delegates signed The Declaration of Independence. It took months to collect the final signatures of delegates who were not present on August 2nd and the names of the Delegates who signed the Declaration were not made public until January 1777.
November 1776: The Declaration of Independence was delivered to Great Britain.
March 1, 1781: The Second Continental Congress ratified the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (or more commonly known as the Articles of Confederation). This is the official creation of “The United States of America.”
September 3, 1783: Great Britain formally recognized the independence of the United States in the Treaty of Paris.
September 17, 1787: Final draft of Constitution agreed to
June 21, 1788: Constitution ratified
March 4, 1789: Effective date of Constitution
April 30, 1789: George Washington sworn in as first President
March 4, 1797: John Adams sworn in as president – this peaceful transfer of power was unique as in other countries transfer of power had only happened due to death or violent overthrow of the ruler. Some historians view this as the true birth of American Democracy.
1870: Nearly 100 years after the drafting of the Declaration, July 4th is declared a national holiday