On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was published on July 4, 1776, and first read publicly on July 8. After Congress approved the exact wording on July 4, the document was signed — first by John Hancock, the president of the Congress, along with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and other congressmen. Other delegates began signing the declaration on Aug. 2. The process is believed to have taken 65 days, and eventually there were 56 signers.
Independence Day first became a holiday for federal workers in 1870, and in 1941 the unpaid day off became a paid holiday.
Happy 236th birthday, United States of America. You don’t look a day over 221!