From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence. This year marks our 242nd year of celebration!
On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2nd “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”
Although the vote for independence took place on the 2nd, it wasn’t until July 4th that Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, largely written by Thomas Jefferson. From then on, July 4th became the day celebrated as the birth of American independence.
According to History.com, John Adams so strongly believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, he reportedly turned down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest.
But he was correct in his premonition of how this holiday would be celebrated by future generations. Independence Day celebrations typically include barbecues, picnics, parades, baseball games – and a whole lot of fireworks.
Here are some more fun facts about the Fourth of July:
- The only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who later served as President of the United States were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
- In an odd twist of fate, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
- Only John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. All the others signed later.
- The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies.
- The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. This was also the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.
- Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped (not actually rung) thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies.
Attending a Fourth of July parade, hosting a barbecue with family and friends, and finding a good fireworks show can help us get into a patriotic mood, remind us of what it means to be an American and feel a sense of camaraderie with our community.
In whatever way you choose to celebrate Independence Day, we wish you a safe and happy holiday!