On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.- I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. – I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. – Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
Adams assumed that July 2nd would be the day of celebration for America because it was then that the Continental Congress, in a unanimous 12-0 vote (New York abstaining), opted for independence from Great Britain. However, July 4th became the iconic date in American history as it was on that date Congress formally approved Jefferson’s text for the Declaration of Independence and made it public.
Regardless of when you choose to celebrate our nation’s independence, I hope everyone has a joyous and safe holiday weekend.