Independence Day, as we know it in the United States, is also referred to as the Fourth of July, and is a federal holiday in the United States. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, in which the thirteen colonies looked upon themselves as the start of a new nation and free of British Empire rules and laws, on July 4th, 1776, well over 200 years ago, by the Continental Congress. However, the Continental Congress voted to declare our independence from England on July 2nd. Historians also believe that the Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2nd, 1776, instead of July 4th.
It was this date, July 2nd that statesman Richard Henry Lee, who would later become the 12th President of the Confederation Congress, proposed to Congress that they approve a resolution of independence, declaring the United States free from Great Britain rule. After the voting, Congress began to discuss the Declaration of Independence. The declaration explained the decision made by Congress to declare its independence from Great Britain. It was prepared by a Committee of Five with Thomas Jefferson being the primary author. Congress had debated and reviewed the wording of the document, finally approving it on July 4th, 1776.
Even John Adams thought the day of independence should have been on July 2nd as well because in a letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams wrote:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
John Adams was spot on with his letter too because we do celebrate Independence Day with political speeches, fireworks, bonfires, picnics, parades, music, and games.
Here is some Fourth of July trivia for you:
In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees and in 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.
Two of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both went on to become presidents and both died on the same day, July 4th, 1826.
Be safe when you celebrate your Fourth of July and remember what the holiday stands for.
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