The Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2, 1776, and an edited and revised copy of the Declaration of Independence was dated July 4, but no one signed the document until Aug. 2, according to, a website of U.S. history documents. That original copy bore the names of John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson, secretary to the Continental Congress. Congress ordered a new copy with larger writing on July 19. Hancock was the first to put his name on the new document, signing it in large, bold letters. Not all the delegates were present on Aug. 2, but 56 eventually signed it. John Adams thought July 2 would be the date that would be remembered, saying in letters that it would be marked with fireworks and celebrations.