Today’s History Lesson: Why we Celebrate 4th of July

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the 4th of July or how the holiday came about? Like many, you may believe that we celebrate this patriotic holiday because it is the day we received our Independence from England.

First, let’s take a step back. Like wayyyyyy back to the 18th century, , before the US was even the US! America consisted of colonies of people who traveled from Britain to build a new life. While at first Britain was OK with this and gave the colonists a ton of leeway in how they operated, Britian eventually decided they wanted to earn a little bit of $$ from these new colonies to support all of the added expenses in 1763 (think military defense, etc.). This is where the saying “no taxation without representation” derived from. Britain wanted to tax the colonies, but still did not give them representation in Parliament. Cue the American Revolution!

Although the First Continental Congress was unable to persuade the British government to recognize the rights of the colonies, there were still a few determined young lads who thought they were able to tackle the feat and build a 2nd Continental Congress. Enter John Adams, Samuel Adams and Ben Franklin aka the Sons of Liberty. They, amongst a few others (Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman), wrote and revised the Declaration of Independence. After sending it to Congress for approval; all 13 colonies stood behind the Declaration of Independence and it was adopted on…. you got it, July 4th, 1776!

Pre-revolutionary war, many colonies celebrated the king’s birthday which included activities such as ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. Post-revolutionary war, well that summer many colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for the king. Even though we had declared independence from Britain, the American Revolution was still being fought so in essence, people celebrated a bit early that year. Come 1777 though, people were even more ready to party! Philadelphia was the first to hold an annual commemoration of independence on 7/4/1777 (yes, the war was still going on, it did not end until 1783). In 1778, George Washington even issued double rations of rum to the soldiers to celebrate the day.

Today, it is most celebrated a as a mid-summer beach & BBQ day focused around family get-togethers and often includes fireworks! The day celebrates the pure ideals of democracy, liberty and the American Dream – pursuit of happiness.

Fun facts:

  • Massachusetts became the first state to make 4th of July an official state holiday!
  • The U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday in 1870
  • In 1941, the day was grated as a paid holiday to all federal employees

How are you spending your 4th?


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