The Fourth of July also known as Independence Day or July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.
We celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year. But July 4, 1776 wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later on July 4th, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
On June 11, 1776, the Colonies’ Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and formed a committee whose express purpose was drafting a document that would formally sever their ties with Great Britain. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer, crafted the original draft document. A total of 86 changes were made to his draft and the Continental Congress officially adopted the final version on July 4, 1776.
They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes. July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August and now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.
From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to family gatherings and barbecues. Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has become a major focus of leisure activities. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.