We all know the Fourth of July is about more than fireworks and backyard barbecues, but sometimes it is hard to comprehend exactly what we’re celebrating as we often take our freedom for granted.
Independence Day is just that, a day to celebrate our nation’s independence from a powerful British monarchy that imposed taxation tyranny and forced colonist to quarter British troops among other things.
When the Declaration of Independence was first adopted in 1776, the 13 colonies were already 442 days in a brutal war with British troops, known today as the American Revolution. “The shot heard around the world,” the first shot fired in the American Revolution, marked an ideological expansion of the conflict, which eventually required the involvement of France on behalf of the newly formed United States of America.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with drafting the bulk of the declaration, which features such immortal lines as, “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.”
On July 4, 1776, 12 colonies voted to approve the U.S.’s separation from Britain, followed by the 13th colony, New York, 15 days later. The declaration was officially signed on Aug. 2 of that year. The war with Britain would last another seven years until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.
So this weekend when you’re grilling up tasting treats and laughing with friends and family, try to remember that this holiday marks a momentous turning point in our nation’s history and set the tone for the United States as a superpower for centuries to come.
And now, a few fun facts about the Fourth of July:
- Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the 2nd and 3rd Presidents of the United States respectively, who helped to write the Declaration of Independence, both died hours apart on July 4, 1826.
- Even though it would not become an official holiday for more than 100 years, the earliest Independence Day celebration took place on July 4, 1777, with parades and fireworks.
- Americans eat 144 million hotdogs on the Fourth of July; that’s enough to stretch from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles more than five times.
- The Independence Day weekend is expected to generate nearly $200 million in beer sales.