Many time-honored patriotic tales turn out to be more fiction than fact. On the 4th of July—marked in 2012 by a continent-spanning Google doodle—here’s a look at some memorable myths from the birth of the United States.
1. The Declaration of Independence Was Signed on July 4
Independence Day is celebrated two days too late. The Second Continental Congress voted for a Declaration of Independence on July 2, prompting John Adams to write his wife, “I am apt to believe that [July 2, 1776], will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”
Adams correctly foresaw shows, games, sports, buns, bells, and bonfires—but he got the date wrong. The written document wasn’t edited and approved until the Fourth of July, and that was the date printers affixed to “broadside” announcements sent out across the land. July 2 was soon forgotten. Read more.