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Stars and Stripes Continental Congress 1777 via history.com

To all the people of the United States celebrating this 4th of July weekend, perhaps among all the hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, baked beans, cole slaw (a Southern girl’s gotta have slaw) and watermelon, you can share a little known tidbit about the history of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

It’s a long held belief that the 4th of July is the day the Declaration of Independence was signed by all participating parties amidst pomp and circumstance, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.


Okay, now that most everyone that cares has regained a modicum of composure, let me explain. The resolution to declare independence was initially introduced on June 7th, 1776 by Richard Henry Lee. However, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and South Carolina were not yet ready for such an action. The Second Continental Congress delayed voting until July 1, 1776. In addition to the delay, the committee granted permission for a few men to draft a formal declaration in the meantime. With the lead author being Thomas Jefferson, the document was reviewed on June 28, 1776 by the Congress.

On July 1, 1776 formal debate began, and on July 2, 1776 a unanimous vote was passed with only New York abstaining. So, July 2, 1776 is the official day the Declaration of Independence was passed. Even John Adams wrote that the 2nd of July would be remembered for all times.

So, why the 4th, you say? Well, it took a couple of days for the final draft of Thomas Jefferson’s declaration to be passed, and that’s where the horse-flies come into the picture.

Apparently, by some accounts, it was a stifling day with the doors and windows shut. Upon cracking open a few windows, horse-flies inhabiting a neighboring horse stall seized the opportunity for fresh meat and flew into the room, chomping all men alike. It was upon their discomfort that the men ceased arguing and hastened the vote to run free of the biting pests.

In essence, we have horse-flies to thank for the 4th being the day of celebration! Of course, the document wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776 and not by all fifty-six delegates.

So, there you have it! A fun party fact to be talked about between scrumptious bites of food;-)

Here’s hoping for a wonderful 4th!

Happy celebrations,


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