MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Fourth of July is the celebration of America’s independence, but here’s a little known fact: We didn’t actually declare our independence on that day.

So why do we celebrate on July 4?

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence, which is the date on the document. But the Continental Congress had actually declared independence on July 2.

It wasn’t until July 8 that the city of Philadelphia celebrated, and then-Gen. George Washington didn’t know the declaration was official until July 9. Most of the signers penned their names on August 2. The news didn’t reach England until mid-August.

The fourth of July didn’t become an official U.S. holiday until 1870.

Heather Brown

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