On July 4, 1776 the delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted and signed the Declaration of Independence. But since we all know that — after all don’t we celebrate our nation’s birthday every July Fourth — let’s go back 238 years to the week that followed this historic event.
Once the Declaration of Independence was written, not on paper, but on parchment, and signed by the delegates on July 4, John Dunlop, a local Philadelphia printer, was asked to make about 200 copies to be distributed throughout the 13 states.
The following morning John Hancock sent these copies by horseback to all 13 states: New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
And on Friday, July 5, the German Pennsylvaischer Staatsbote became the new nation’s first newspaper to announce that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted. The following day, Saturday, July 6, The Philadelphia Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the full text of the Declaration.
On Monday, July 8, a 2,000-pound copper and tin bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, what we now know as Independence Hall, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Col. John Nixon.
George Washington ordered that the document be read to the assembled Continental Army on Tuesday, July 9.
Once copies of the Declaration reached their destinations in the 13 states they were prominently posted and were read in town squares so that those who could not read would hear the news about the separation from England.
The public readings in towns and cities across the new nation were accompanied by cheers, loud shouts of joy, firing of muskets, and tearing down of the British emblems.
Freedom rang throughout the new United States of America.