Welcome to the latest edition of The Why. “Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July?” you ask? Good question. But for the sake of our international readers, let’s review.
Independence Day or the Fourth of July is a United States federal holiday that marks our adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The document declared our independence from Great Britain (now known as the United Kingdom). The holiday has become associated with such things as barbecues, fireworks, parades and special ceremonies.
Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? Some celebrate it because they get the day off as a paid holiday. We also celebrate it because it follows the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain which occurred on July 2, 1776.
It was on this day that the Second Continental Congress voted “thumbs up” on a resolution of independence that had been suggested the previous month by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. Having voted for independence, Congress next turned its attention to a document—a “Declaration of Independence” which explained their group decision and had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its lead author.
It would take Congress until the Fourth of July to agree on revisions and approve the now historic document. John Adams had written to his wife Abigail just a couple days earlier noting: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
So if our date of legal separation is July 2, why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? That’s the way it’s always been. From the beginning, we Americans have always celebrated our independence on July 4 which is the date noted on the famous Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the day the resolution of independence was green-lighted behind closed doors by Congress.
Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? While historians have stated that the document was not actually signed until August 2, 1776, heavy-hitters Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin all claimed they signed the document on July 4.
Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? As if we don’t already have enough reason, the simply date continues to gain historical significance. For example, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to become Presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826.
July 4, 1826 was also the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Founding Father who became President, James Monroe, also died on July 4, 1831. Finally, Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872.
Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July? Now you know.
You ask the questions. We provide the answers.