Tomorrow, the 4th of July, is Independence Day. It’s become a day for fireworks, cookouts, and concerts. It’s a day of parades, speeches, and special events held by municipalities all over our nation. But how did it get here?
The first skirmishes of the revolutionary war began in April of 1775. The American fighters were considered radicals, and not largely supported by the populace. By June of 1776, when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, public opinion had been swayed to support the effort by such patriots as Thomas Paine, and his widely read pamphlet, Common Sense. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston were chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence. Moved by the committee’s efforts and Jefferson’s pen with such words as the famous “We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”, the Continental Congress voted in favor of the resolution, and a formal statement of independence was issued to Great Britain. It became official on July 4th, 1776.
What Do Firecrackers and Hot Dogs Have to do With it?
In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote, “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews (shows), Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” I think we owe much of the traditional celebration to our 2nd president, Mr. Adams.
Independence Day Celebration Milestones
• In 1777, Philadelphia celebrated with speeches, music, parades, and fireworks. The city was decorated in red, white, and blue. It’s not so different 237 years later is it?
• In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official holiday.
• Sometime in the late 18th century, July 4th became referred to as Independence Day.
• In 1870, the US Congress declared the 4th of July a holiday for federal employees.
• In 1941, Independence Day became a national holiday.
Regardless of how you celebrate, the 4th of July should be a day to reflect on the gifts of freedom and independence our forefathers bestowed upon us. We should cherish their vision, determination, and sacrifice. If you’d like to learn more about the history of this celebration, check out History Channel 4th of July Topics.