The Fourth of July has become one of America’s most celebrated holidays. Family barbecues, homemade ice-cream, and fireworks consume the nation, as its citizens pay tribute to what they consider to be the birthday of the United States.
Every year it is a grand show of patriotism, but there is one small problem. The events of July 4, 1776, were relatively minor when compared with what happened on June 7, July 2, and Aug. 2 of that year.
The real problem facing the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on July 4 had more to do with a horde of giant horseflies that invaded Independence Hall than anything else.
The first official move toward independence from Great Britain came on June 7, 1776, when Richard Henry Lee of Virginia petitioned the Second Continental Congress to make a clean break with the Mother Country. Nearly all of the delegates leaned toward Lee’s clarion call, but few had the fortitude to take the final step that would turn the colonies into “free and independent states.” They preferred to ponder the problem for awhile, so they tabled Lee’s motion...