In 1776 the congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and they appointed a committee to write a formal document that would tell Great Britain that the Americans had decided to rule over themselves. Thomas Jefferson was asked to write a draft of the document declaring our indepedance, so he worked for days, in secret, until he had written a document that he thought it included everything important that the committee had discussed. On June 28, 1776, the committee met to read Jefferson’s copy.
They made some changes to the document and declared their independence on July 2, 1776. They officially adopted it on July 4, 1776. That is why we call it “Independence Day.”
Congress ordered that all members must sign the Declaration of Independence, and the following month they all began signing the “official” copy. In January of 1777, Congress sent signed copies to all of the 13 unified colonies, now free states.