Independence Day: The History
We've celebrated July 4th as a holiday since 1941, but the tradition of celebrating Independence Day dates back to the 18th century during the American revolution.2
Early July bustles with travel and vacation, as people get ready for the famous three day weekend.1 July 4th is usually characterized by parades, fireworks, family gatherings, and barbecues.2
In April 1775, the Revolutionary War started.. Initially, only few (radical) colonists wanted to fight for independence from Britain; however, the hostility against Britain greatly increased by early 1776, and as the dissatisfaction and restlessness grew, most colonists wanted independence.2
Because of having to pay taxes to England without any representation in Parliament (among other things), the colonists cried out for independence throughout the 13 colonies. When reports of dissatisfaction and anger over the taxation without representation reached King George III, he sent British troops to quell the early signs of rebellion. But, the British failed to stop the rebellion.3
The Continental Congress met on June 7th in Philadelphia, where Richard Henry Lee, the delegate from Virginia, introduced a motion urging for the colonies’ independence. The Continental Congress decided to postpone the vote on Lee’s proposal, because a decidedly debate ensued; however, on July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted for Lee’s resolution for independence with a nearly unanimous vote. 2
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin and Robert R. Livingston - a committee appointed by the Continental Congress - drafted a formal statement justifying the break from Britain.2 Jefferson led the committee in drafting this important document that would change our history forever, 3 and the Continental Congress made few changes to the draft. Adoption of the final version happened July 4, 1776. 3 The next day, distributions of the Declaration of Independence started throughout the colonies, and the Pennsylvania Evening was the first newspaper to print this significant document, seen as the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty.3
The Continental Congress voted in favor of America attaining independence on July 2, 1776, and only two days later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the historic document and referred to it as the Declaration of Independence. Since that monumental July 4th, Americans celebrate it as the birth of America’s independence.1
Philadelphia celebrated July 4th with bonfires, ringing bells, and fireworks. Soon, the custom eventually spread to other cities and towns, and the day clamors with processions, games, military gun salutes, picnics, and fireworks.3
In the early years of celebrating the Declaration of Independence, some colonists held mock funerals for King George III - symbolizing the end monarchy in America, and the triumph of liberty.2 Concerts, bonfires, parades, and firing of cannons and muskets were accompanied by reading the Declaration of Independence.3
The political importance of Independence Day has faded over the years; nevertheless, July 4th remains our most significant national holiday and a constant symbol of American Patriotism. Now, the original Declaration of Independence sits in Washington D.C., a testament to the courage and far-reaching vision of our forefathers.
The American flag prevails as a symbol of the July 4th holiday, along with "The Star Spangled Banner." Our anthem endures to this day as a special feature for every Independence Day, and as a tribute at all of our major social, sporting, and political events. Even fireworks displays explode perfectly along with the familiar strains of our national anthem. Usually the fireworks occur later in the evening at parts, town squares, or even over golf courses and lakes. But, some cities put on an extravaganza.
New York has the biggest fireworks display in the USA, held at the East River. Other states with major fireworks displays include Chicago, San Diego, Boston,San Francisco, Washington DC,and St Louis.
Even military bases celebrate with the gun salute, one each for each state: referred to as “Salute to the Union,” fired on Independence Day at noon.
Like with any celebration, food is a significant part of Independence Day: barbecues, potlucks, picnics, and family reunions. People take the opportunity, on July 4th, to gather with relatives and friends and reminisce about the past and the future, while surrounded with the wonderful patriotic red, white, and blue of our precious and wonderful country - America!
Happy Independence Day from us!