We nearly missed the official founding of our nation because people couldn’t show up on time.

The United States colonies signed the Treaty of Paris to end the war with England on September 3, 1783. They were then given 6 months to ratify the agreement and send it back to England to make it official.

However, the ocean voyage took about 2 months, so the Continental Congress needed to vote on the treaty by January at the latest. Although delegates were called to meet in November, not enough of them showed up. If Richard Beresford of South Carolina hadn’t left his sickbed to vote, the whole war could have been for nothing.

On National Ratification Day we celebrate one of America’s lesser-known holidays and one man who made all the difference.

Today we also celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day and National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day.