Pennsylvania Evening Post published on July 2: “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.”
In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote: “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, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
July 4th is the day Jefferson’s edited version of the Declaration of Independence was actually adopted after the Continental Congress tweaked it several times. Historians believe that it wasn’t actually signed until August.