On June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee of Virginia stood before the other delegates of the Continental Congress and stated “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
On July 1, 1776 Lee’s resolution was adopted and on July 2nd five men began the frame work for the declaration with Thomas Jefferson writing it and John Adams and Benjamin Franklin working with him to decide the revisions. The Declaration of Independence was completed on July 4th , the document required all 13 Colonies to approve it before it could be issued and only 12 Colonies approved it that day. New York did not officially approve the declaration until July 9th. The July 4th Declaration of Independence was only signed by 2 men, John Hancock, Congress President, and Charles Thomson, Congress Secretary.
The Declaration of Independence was not signed by the 56 delegates until August 2, 1776 with a few politicians actually refusing to sign in hopes of reconciling with Great Britain. It was Philadelphia that held a commemoration ceremony on July 4, 1777 that started this as the date of independence but as you can see there are a number of dates that can be accepted, June 7th for Lee’s resolution, July 1st for the day the resolution was approved, July 2nd for the day that the Declaration of Independence was begun, July 4th for the day that it was submitted to Congress and signed by Hancock and Thomson, July 9th for the day that all 13 Colonies approved the document or even August 2nd for the day that the final delegates signed thus making it official.
No matter how you look at it, were it not for the unity of 13 colonies standing up for their right to refuse taxation without representation we would not be able to celebrate their sacrifices 236 years later and for that we should thank them.