America celebrates Independence Day, commonly known as The Fourth Of July, every year on July 4th. The day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence signed by all 13 colonies that marked the beginning of America's Independence.
2023 marks 247 years of Independence from British rule.
While The Fourth of July became an unpaid federal holiday in 1870, it was on June 29, 1938, that a law was passed turning it into a paid holiday for federal employees. This became a bigger symbol of patriotism over the years. The day of July 4th has been since known as America’s Birthday.
Since it is a federal holiday, businesses, schools, and offices remain closed. If the 4th falls on a weekend, it is observed on the previous Friday or the following Monday.
The History of Independence Day
The American Revolutionary War began in April of 1775, at a time when Americans were unhappy with the British ruling of the colonies. This hostility towards the country was furthered in 1776 with the publication of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet titled “Common Sense”.
On June 7th,1776, a Congress with representatives from all 13 colonies (Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Delaware) met in Philadelphia. It was during this meeting that Richard Henry, a Statesman from Virginia, Lee made a compelling argument in favor of the colonies' independence from Britain.
Thus, a committee was formed, comprising five American household names: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Benjamin Franklin. They were tasked with drafting a formal document declaring the independence of the colonies from Great Britain, with the intent of forming their nation.
Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration with the help of others in revising and improving it. Jefferson's political background and experience with writing other statements in the nation's defense made him most suitable for this job. After its completion, Congress unanimously cast its votes in favor of the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd, and it was officially adopted on July 4th.
However, John Adams predicted that 2nd July would turn out to be a historic date celebrated with much pride and pomp in the future.
The Declaration of Independence contained five sections:
The Body is divided into two sections and
On July 8th, 1776, the Declaration had its first public reading and brought a feeling of relief and victory to the young nation. July 4th was officially made a federal holiday by Congress in 1870, even though States already held a state holiday on the day.
Early Independence Day Celebrations
The colonies celebrated the British King's birthday before independence by throwing parades and organizing bonfires in his honor. However, all these traditions were cast aside in 1776.
In the resurgence of their freedom, fake funerals were being held to symbolize the end of the monarchy in the colonies.
Fourth of July celebrations always have taken the shape of concerts, bonfires, and parades, as well as the public readings of the Declaration of Independence. The first annual Independence Day celebrations were held in Philadelphia on July 4th, 1777, even though the war was taking place.
In fact, three years after Independence in 1778, then-President George Washington provided double the amount of Rum as a part of the ration to the American soldiers to celebrate this day.
Why Is Independence Day Celebrated
Massachusetts was the first state to make July 4th into a state holiday in 1781, before America won the war. The Fourth of July quickly became the American holiday to be celebrated with the most fervor. It marked the biggest victory for the country:
After the war, people celebrated the day as there was a brand new feeling of unity amongst all Americans and their new governors.
The Fourth Of July Celebration Now
Today, the Fourth of July is one of the biggest celebrations in the country. People hold many family celebrations, by organizing picnics and barbecues and celebrating American political freedom.
Traditionally, this is the day for eating competitions such as pies and hotdogs, and sports, like baseball, the big American game.
4th of July parades, fairs, and carnivals are also a common occurrence on this day.
It is a common tradition to wear blue, red, or white clothes on this day because it represents all the colors of the American Flag. Get to know more about what these colors symbolize in the article Flag Day.
People decorate their homes with the American flag, hold fireworks displays, and listen to patriotic music or watch American movies. In fact, the firework tradition dates back to 1777.
Independence Day is mostly a day to pay tribute to those of the first American generation who fought for their freedom.
Did You Know
Two former Presidents of the USA who were also key figures in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, breathed their last on July 4, 1826.