July 4, 1776 is often thought of as the day that the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain. In fact, they did this on July 2, 1776. People have also associated July 4 with the day that the Declaration of Independence was written and delivered to Great Britain. In reality, the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written in June of 1776 and did not arrive in England until November 1776.
July 4, 1776, was actually the day that the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. Once the final draft was complete, it was signed on August 2, 1776 by most members of Congress.
Though the first July 4 may not have happened exactly as you thought it did, it was nonetheless a seminal day in American history. Happy Independence Day!
For additional reading about July 4 and the American Revolution, see the book list below:
The British Are Coming: The War For America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson
Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence by Joseph J. Ellis
Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence by John E. Ferling
Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer
John Adams by David McCullough
The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1786 by David Middlekauff
The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution
The Glorious Cause: A Novel of the American Revolution by Michael Shaara
The websites ConstitutionFacts.com and NationalGeographic.org provide detailed historical information about the actions taken by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.