This weekend, as we celebrate our nation’s independence with barbecues, parades and extravagant firework displays, let’s remember to take a moment and remember how we got here.
Independence Day is the celebration of the day our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence freeing the thirteen American colonies from British rule on July 4, 1776. Still reeling from the scars of the American Revolution, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776 and immediately began drafting the Declaration of Independence.
With Thomas Jefferson as its principal author, the declaration was drafted by a committee of five, which included John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
In a letter to his wife, Abigail, Adam’s said: “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.”
While he was off by two days, his prediction ultimately came true.
Here are some interesting facts about the Fourth of July:
- Congress chose fireworks to celebrate the first anniversary and the tradition stuck
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing
- Independence Day became a legal federal holiday in 1870
- Independence Day didn’t become a paid federal holiday until 1938
- On July 4, 1946, the Philippines gained their independence from the United States.
- It is believed by some scholars that the actual declaration of Independence wasn’t signed until Aug. 2, 1776, almost a month after it was drafted.
Enjoy your weekend with friends and family. Happy Independence Day!