It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of the 4th of July holiday, especially if you’ve always called it that instead of “Independence Day.” But most people know the meaning of the day.
“I have a three-year-old who understands that it is the birthday party for the United States and she is very excited,” says Meredith Gvocdas of Columbia.
But some of the other details about the day may be a lot harder to recall from your elementary or middle school history classes.
What year did the colonies declare their independence? “Uhhhhh, I do not know sir. Sorry,” says Demetrius Sheppard of Columbia. He’s not alone. “Don’t remember,” says David Williams. “Oh, pfffft. Might as well go on. I have no idea,” says Serkan Freeman of Columbia.
Ken Salisbury answers that question quickly. “1776,” he said Friday at a Columbia fireworks stand.
The Continental Congress approved the final text of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, which is why we celebrate it as Independence Day. But the Congress actually adopted a resolution declaring independence on July 2nd. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed until August 2nd by most members of the Continental Congress.
From which country were we declaring our independence? “Ooooh, Jesus. Here? I don’t know,” answered Lecretia Hunter of Columbia. “The Brits,” answers Steve Acosta, from Gastonia, North Carolina, who had stopped in Columbia to buy fireworks.
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? “Jefferson,” says Jim Hindersman of Columbia.
It was actually a five-man committee of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Jefferson did most of the writing. Even though Livingston contributed to writing the Declaration, he never signed it, saying he thought it was too soon to declare independence.
Can you name any of the signers of the Declaration of Independence? “No,” says Amanda Sparks of Columbia, laughing.
Meredith Gvocdas says, “How about John Hancock?” He’s probably the best known, for having signed his name above and larger than the other signers. You can see a complete list of signers here.
One interesting fact about the Declaration that’s pertinent to South Carolina is that the two youngest signers were both from the state. Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge were both only 26 when they signed, while most of the other signers were in their 40s or 50s. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest signer at 70.