"Today is Independence Day. On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, and the United States officially broke from the rule of England. The Declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson in a little second floor room on Market Street in Philadelphia, on a little lap desk that he designed himself. The Congress had wanted Benjamin Franklin to write it, but he declined, and then John Adams declined because he said Jefferson was ten times a better writer than he was...
...Benjamin Franklin made a few new changes. Jefferson had written, "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable." Franklin changed that to, "We hold these truths to be self-evident."
The Congress cut out an entire paragraph in which Jefferson had attacked the king for perpetuating the slave trade. They cut about 480 words out of his draft, leaving 1,337. Jefferson found the whole process rather painful.
The 4th of July became a big holiday after the war of 1812 and out on the American frontier, it was the one time of the year when everyone gathered in town from all over the countryside for parades and speeches, and the prettiest girl would be named the Goddess of Liberty, and politicians would get up and denounce the king and men would get drunk and insult each other, call each other Englishmen, and get into fights."