States, Independence Day, commonly known
as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption
of the Declaration of
Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring
independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Independence Day is commonly associated
political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and
private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions
of the United States. Independence Day is the national day
of the United States.
American Revolution, the legal
separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on
July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress
voted to approve a resolution of
independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.
After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the
, a statement explaining this decision, which had
been prepared by a Committee of
, with Thomas Jefferson
its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration,
finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams
had written to his wife Abigail
Adams' prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans
celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the
, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution
of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.
One of the most enduring myths about Independence Day is that
Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
The myth had become so firmly established that, decades after the
event and nearing the end of their lives, even the elderly Thomas
Jefferson and John Adams had come to believe that they and the
other delegates had signed the Declaration on the fourth. Most
delegates actually signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776. In a
remarkable series of coincidences, both John Adams and Thomas
Jefferson, two founding fathers
the United States and the only two men who signed the Declaration
of Independence to become president
, died on the same
day: July 4, 1826, which was the United States' 50th
An 1825 invitation to an Independence
1777, thirteen gunshots were fired, once at
morning and again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode
Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first
anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite
familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts,
speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks.
Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
- In 1778, General George
Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute.
John Adams and Benjamin Franklin
held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
- 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.
1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging
music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work
was titled "The Psalm of Joy".
- In 1791 the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day"
- In 1820 the first Fourth of July celebration was held in
Eastport, Maine which remains the largest in the state.
- In 1870, the U.S.
Congress made Independence
Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
- In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal
Patriotic trailer shown in theaters
prior to the 4th of July, 1940.
Independence Day is a national holiday
marked by patriotic
displays. Similar to
other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often
take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all
non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service
and federal courts
) are closed on
that day. Many politicians
make it a
point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the
nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and people.
Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a
picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some
years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations
, streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally
colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag
. Parades often are
in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at
such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.
Independence Day fireworks
accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem
"The Star-Spangled Banner
"God Bless America
", "America the Beautiful
", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee
"This Land Is Your Land
"Stars and Stripes
", and, regionally, "Yankee
" in northeastern states and "Dixie
" in southern states. Some of the lyrics
recall images of the Revolutionary
or the War of 1812
Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold
for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety
concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes
and types allowed. Illicit traffic
transfers many fireworks from less restrictive states.
A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a
“salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any
capable military base.
City had the largest fireworks display in the country,
with over 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded.. Other major displays
are in Chicago on Lake Michigan; in San
Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the
Charles River; in St. Louis on the Mississippi
River; and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. During the annual Windsor-Detroit
International Freedom Festival, Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world's largest fireworks
displays, over the Detroit River, to
celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor,
Ontario's celebration of Canada
While the official observance always falls on July , participation
levels may vary according to which day of the week the 4th falls
on. If the holiday falls in the middle of the week, some fireworks
displays and celebrations may take place during the weekend for
convenience, again, varying by region.
Unique or historical celebrations
since 1785, the Bristol
Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island is the oldest continuous Independence Day
celebration in the United States.
1912, the Society, a Danish-American friendship organization, has
held a July 4th weekend festival that serves as a
homecoming for Danish-Americans in the section of Denmark.
1916, Nathan's Hot Dog
Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
City supposedly started as a way to settle a dispute
among four immigrants as to who was the most patriotic.
1959, the International
Freedom Festival is jointly held in Detroit,
Michigan and Windsor, Ontario during the last week of June each year as a mutual
celebration of Independence Day and Canada
Day (July 1). It culminates in a large fireworks display
over the Detroit River.
- Numerous major and
minor league baseball games are played on Independence Day.
famous Macy's fireworks
display usually held over the East River in New York
City has been televised nationwide on NBC since 1976. In 2009, the fireworks display
was returned to the Hudson River for
the first time since 2000 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of
Henry Hudson's exploration of that
1970, the annual 10 kilometer Peachtree Road Race is held in Atlanta, Georgia.
- The Boston Pops Orchestra
has hosted a music and fireworks show over the Charles River Esplanade called the
"Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" annually since 1973. The event
has been broadcast nationally since 2007 on CBS.
the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., “A Capitol Fourth,” a free concert, precedes
the fireworks and attracts over half a million people