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FOURTH OF JULY HISTORY

The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain. Actually, the legal separation of the Thirteen 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 declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated revising the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4th.

 

John Hancock signed the Declaration with his famous extra large signature to make sure King George III could read his signature creating "John Hancock" as a saying for signing documents. George Washington, who would become our first President, didn't sign the Declaration. He was commanding the Continental Army at the time and no longer a delegate to the Continental Congress. John Adams told his wife Abigail that July 2nd will be the most memorable event in American history and celebrated for succeeding generations. He was off by 2 days. Since John Adams believed July 2nd should be the day of celebration, he turned down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest. Historians have debated the actual signing on July 4th, concluding that it was signed on August 2nd. Still, Americans have always celebrated independence on July 4th. Coincidently, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration's adoption. Also, another former President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831. Moreover, Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872.

 

1777 marked the first anniversary celebrations with 13 gun salutes in Bristol, Rhode Island and Philadelphia. In 1778, General George Washington celebrated at his headquarters with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Also in 1778, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for fellow Americans in Paris, France. In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4th as a state celebration. In 1783, the Moravians of Salem, North Carolina held the first recognized recorded celebration that is still celebrated there today. Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States. In 1791, the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day" occurred. Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska has held a celebration on the same town square, designated as "America's Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA" by resolution of Congress in 1979. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a federal paid holiday. Since 1972, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest has been held in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. The Boston Pops Orchestra has hosted a music and fireworks show over the Charles River Esplanade in Boston since 1973.The famous Macy's fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York City has been televised nationwide since 1976 and is the largest fireworks display nationally.

 

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!





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