USA Independence Day: History, Significance and Celebrations


Washington: The Fourth of July is one of America’s biggest holidays. This year marks the 245th celebration of the American national holiday and commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the US in 1776.

Unites States of Independence Day was first celebrated in 1777 which was featured with stars and stripes. There is a federal holiday in honour of the Declaration of Independence. On 4 July, 1776 the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the delegates from the 13 colonies was commemorated.

USA Independence Day: History                                                

In April 1775, Revolutionary War broke out. People in New England began fighting for their independence and were considered radical. When the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House later known as Independence Hall on 7 June in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.

Then, on 2 July Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain, and the final wording of the Declaration for Independence was approved on 4 July, 1776, and the document was published.

On 8 July, 1776 the first reading of the declaration document was made and on 2 August, 1776 delegates started signing the Independence declaration.

Independence Day was an unpaid holiday for the federal employees in 1870 but in 1941 it became a paid holiday.

Interesting is that on 3 July, 1776 John Adams sent a letter to his wife Abigail describing how celebration should be done for Independence Day. He suggested “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” can be done on this day.

Note: Until 1791 the term “Independence Day” is not used. Native Americans lived in the country and each tribe had its own nation and government prior to the European settlers.

Early Fourth of July Celebrations

In the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists had held annual celebrations of the king’s birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. By contrast, during the summer of 1776 some colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for King George III as a way of symbolizing the end of the monarchy’s hold on America and the triumph of liberty.

Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence, beginning immediately after its adoption. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war.

George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778, and in 1781, several months before the key American victory at the Battle of Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to commemorate Independence Day every year, in celebrations that allowed the new nation’s emerging political leaders to address citizens and create a feeling of unity. By the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties—the Federalist Party and Democratic-Republicans—that had arisen began holding separate Fourth of July celebrations in many large cities.

Fourth of July Fireworks

The first fireworks were used as early as 200 BC. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4 of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. Ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.

USA Independence Day: Celebration

The day is a family celebration with picnics and barbeques. Some activities associated with the day include watermelon or hotdog eating competitions and sporting events, such as baseball games, three-legged races, swimming activities, and tug-of-war games. Various people, on this day, display the American flag outside their homes and buildings. Several communities arrange fireworks that are often accompanied by patriotic music, etc.

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