Americans are not great students of history, but they know one thing for sure: The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. Well, it wasn’t. And unfortunately Head2HeadTrivia promulgated that myth in the June 30 Post and Courier.

Here’s the actual history:

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of independence (the vote was 12-0-1, with New York abstaining until its Legislature approved). Operating as a committee of the whole, Congress then proceeded to edit the draft copy of the Declaration.

After making over 80 changes, Congress approved the wording of the document on July 4 (by the same 12-0-1 vote). Finally, on Aug. 2, 1776, a parchment copy was presented to Congress to be signed. Probably 50 of the eventual 56 signers affixed ink to parchment on that day.

So what are we really celebrating on July 4th? The completion of a successful editing job.

John R. Young

Assistant Director

Powder Magazine Museum

Cumberland Street

Charleston