Tomorrow is Independence Day, and Utah, like every other state, will participate. However, the fourth day of July, in terms of American Independence, is not particularly important. The Continental Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776 when it finally voted on and passed the Lee Resolution. Contemporary newspapers immediately reported the news, making the delivery of a written declaration a mere formality, which did not even happen until November 1776.
Indeed, John Adams thought July 2 was the day that would be celebrated. In a letter dated “Philadelphia July 3d. 1776,” 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, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
To his credit, Adams more or less foretold how we would celebrate Independence Day, but he selected the wrong date. So why do we celebrate July 4? The date of July 4 is the day the draft of the Declaration of Independence was approved. Thomas Jefferson was such an elegant and moving writer that the Declaration of Independence, instead of being a mere legal formality, turned out to be one of the most important political documents ever. When the date July 4, 1776 was affixed to the top and copies circulated throughout the colonies, July 4 became the date the public remembered. In 1870, when Congress first declared several days as national holidays, it selected July 4 as the day for Independence Day.