John Hancock
The slow-spreading news of American independence
The slow-spreading news of American independence

Truth be told, when we celebrate American independence today, we’ve actually missed the anniversary by two days. Like many elements of history, the popular understanding of how the Declaration of Independence unrolled, as it were, isn’t quite what actually happened. It was on July 2, 1776, that the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Britain. Two days later, it adopted the final wording of the formal Declaration of Independence, the manifesto written by Thomas Jefferson with some significant editing by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and two others as well as the Congress itself. By the time they were done, it had shrunk by one-fourth. Even then,...