You know July 4 is for fireworks and parades, but how much do you know about its history? The facts may surprise you.

The Automatic Payroll Systems website shares these little-known facts about the nation’s founding:


The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4. The Second Continental Congress voted on the Declaration on July 2, 1776, and it was finalized on July 4, but it wasn’t signed by a majority until Aug. 2.

Because of all this, John Adams, the second president of the United States, didn’t recognize or celebrate July 4 as Independence Day.


The vote was not unanimous. Richard Henry Lee proposed a bill declaring independence on June 7, 1776. Twelve of the 13 colonies voted to adopt it; New York abstained.

On July 4, only nine of the colonies voted in favor of the declaration; Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted against it, New York abstained again, and Delaware was undecided.


The declaration had a strategic purpose. The point of the formal declaration was to attract foreign allies in the fight for independence. The signers wanted to present the 13 colonies as a united front, or they felt other countries like France wouldn’t take them seriously.


About the signers: Fifty-six people signed the document. Eight were born in Britain; the rest were born colonists (all were still technically British subjects at the time of the signing). One signer recanted after being captured by British forces.

The last person to sign was Matthew Thornton, on Nov. 4, 1776.

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