[The winning boat passing the judge's boat, July 4, 1860.]
The legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain in 1776 occurred on July 2, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence declaring the United States independent from Great Britain's. After voting for independence, Congress voted for Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author and approved it two days later on July 4. Most historians, however, have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed. Since that, Americans celebrate independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.