fourth of july

This weekend, Americans across the United States will celebrate the fourth of July with parades, barbeques, and red, white, and blue attire. President Joe Biden will greet a group of vital workers and military families on the South Lawn of the White House on Sunday in the nation’s capital. On the National Mall, the National Park Service is also presenting the annual Independence Day fireworks display.

But why does the United States celebrate July 4th in particular, given that the Declaration of Independence was not signed until later? When did Americans begin celebrating the Fourth of July, and why do we light fireworks?

Here’s all you need to know about July 4th:

On Fourth of July, what exactly do we commemorate?
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A photo of 4th of July Independence Day Parade -2014
Photo by: S Pakhrin from DC, USA

The Fourth of July, often known as Independence Day, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

The document declaring independence from Great Britain was unanimously accepted by the Congress, which was made up of delegates from the original 13 colonies of the United States.

Political historians believe that the adoption of the founding declaration was a “amazing success” for the colonists.

According to them, original colonists did find a way to set their differences aside and work together for a common purpose and they declared “interdependence” while declaring independence.

How did they celebrate Independence Day at first?

The American revolutionary war famously started on the 19th of April 1775. With the Revolutionary War in full swing by June 1776, a rising majority of colonists favored independence from Britain. The Continental Congress (Famously known as The Second Continental Congress) voted on 4th of July to accept the Declaration of Independence, which was written primarily by Jefferson and drafted by a five-man committee that included Franklin and John Adams.

The year after the Declaration of Independence was signed, some Americans began commemorating the fourth of July. According to the Library of Congress, former President John Adams said in a letter to his daughter that July 4, 1777, was celebrated in Philadelphia “with a festivity and ceremony becoming the occasion.”

Following the War of 1812, however, July 4 became a more widely observed holiday in the United States. By the 1870s, Independence Day had become the most important non-religious holiday for many Americans, and Congress declared it a federal holiday on June 28, 1870.

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A depiction of A Battle Scene from “The War of 1812”

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence

In 1776, Jefferson and four other Second Continental Congress members, including Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, formed a committee to create a proclamation, which went through dozens of revisions before being signed by 56 men.

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Second Continental Congress voting on the United States Declaration of Independence

However, Jefferson is credited with penning the declaration that we now know as the Declaration of Independence, which speaks for “unalienable rights” such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The famous words of the declaration, however, did not apply to everyone in the thirteen colonies, including enslaved people, Indigenous peoples, and others.

What’s with the  fireworks?

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Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

Americans fired a cannon 13 times in commemoration of the original 13 colonies at the first July 4 celebration in Philadelphia in 1777. As part of the festivities, thirteen fireworks were launched throughout the city.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, revelers in Boston also let off fireworks in 1777.

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Fireworks and other festivities, according to Kate Haulman, an associate professor of history at American University, fall into a tradition of public celebrations in England, noting Guy Fawkes Day, which commemorates a foiled plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

Early Independence Day celebrations, according to Haulman, were “a continuation of older sorts of political culture, but made American.”

And, well into the twenty-first century, Americans have continued to celebrate with pyrotechnics, with sales of fireworks soaring in 2020

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How will Americans celebrate the fourth of July this year?  

Many Americans will commemorate both the Fourth of July and the fact that they were able to congregate securely after obtaining COVID-19 immunizations in 2021. The CDC issued guidelines earlier this year stating that fully vaccinated Americans can attend events in their homes or other indoor settings without wearing a mask or adopting social distance.

More Interesting Facts on Independence Day, Fourth of July..

  1. Despite the fact that Independence Day is celebrated on 4 th of July, the Continental Congress voted to withdraw from the United Kingdom on July 2nd, but didn’t finish writing the “Declaration of Independence” until two days later.
  1. Only 12 of the 13 colonies voted for independence from Great Britain on July 2nd; the New York delegation abstained that day but later voted for freedom in July.
  1. The early Fourth of July celebrations were modeled by the British king’s birthday celebrations, which included bell ringing, bonfires, speeches, and parades.
  1. In the days following the declaration of independence, residents in various cities staged fake funerals for the king, whose “death” marked the end of oppression.
  1. As Americans’ free time increased, the Fourth of July became synonymous with excessive drinking and fireworks-related injuries.

In response, reformers in the 19th and early 20th centuries launched the “Safe and Sane Fourth of July” movement, which aimed to limit Independence Day revelry.

Happy Independence Day!!

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