Happy 4th of July from your friendly neighborhood history geek!
On June 7, 1776, Virginia statesman Richard Henry Lee proposed a resolution to the Second Continental Congress stating that “These United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and independent States.” Four days later, Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration embodying the intent of the resolution. The Committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson was given the task to be their spokesperson and write the report. On June 28, the committee submitted the report to Congress, calling it “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.” The Congress passed the resolution on July 2, deciding in favor of independence, but it took until July 4 to approve it. “The Declaration of the 13 United States of America” (it was never officially called The Declaration of Independence) was printed on official parchment and on August 2, a month after it was passed by Congress, every present member signed it. England didn’t recognize the independence of the United States until the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, and we became officially independent from England when the Treaty of Paris was ratified on January 14, 1784.