"The importance of July 4 might have surprised some Founding Fathers. The Continental Congress declared freedom from Britain on July 2 and approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4. Most members signed the document in August.
"Adams thought Americans would remember July 2 as their 'Day of Deliverance' from Britain. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, he wrote, '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."
Melissa Etehad in the Los Angeles Times discusses the deaths of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.