History of July 4th – Independence Day of America
July 4th has a special place in the hearts of Americans as well as in the history of America. On the 4th of July, 1776, the 13 colonies marked their independence from Great Britain.
To know more about this auspicious day and have a clear understanding of July 4th, we will have to go back in history.
Birth of America
It all started when the American revolutionary war broke out in 1775. On 7th June 1776, a continental Congress meeting took place in Pennsylvania. Richard Henry Lee, a statesman of Virginia, proposed a motion in the meeting stating that the colonies should declare independence from Britain. The proposal was not approved immediately and reived some resistance initially since it was a monumental decision for the country and the ongoing situations were to be kept in mind.
On 11th June, seven colonies voted against and five colonies voted in favour of the motion, while New York chose to sit on the fence. So, the consideration of the resolution was postponed. However, a committee of 5 members was formed to draft the official independence document. This draft was called the Declaration of independence.
The member of the drafting committee consisted of Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Rodger Sherman of Connecticut, John Adams of Massachusetts, Robert R Livingstone of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson was given the responsibility of drafting the actual document.
Finally, on July 1st 1776, Lee’s proposal was approved by 12 out of the 13 colonies and New York chose to abstain. There were still some minor changes needed in Jefferson’s Declaration of independence, so it was revised till July 3rd. In the late afternoon of July 4th, the Declaration was officially adopted. Out of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favour of the declaration and two colonies, Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted against it. Delaware was undecided and New York still chose to abstain. Finally, the President of Continental Congress, John Hancock signed the Declaration of independence.
The first public reading of the Declaration of independence was done immediately after it was adopted, with great joy. Concerts, bonfires and parades along with fireworks were arranged. 13 cannons were fired for each of the 13 colonies to mark the birth of America. The first annual commemoration of independence was held in Philadelphia.
Although colonies declared themselves independent and new America was already born, the revolutionary war continued and finally, America defeated great Britain officially, in September 1783.
The Federal Holiday
We know that the 4th of July is a federal holiday in America. But, do you know that it wasn’t like this from the beginning??
Yes, there was no federal holiday on the 4th of July until 1870 and it didn’t become a paid holiday for federal employees until 1941. It is called a federal holiday since on this day all the federal institutions are closed and employees are given paid holidays but private institutions and business are free to decide whether they want to work or not.
The independence day celebration is worth watching. All the streets are specifically decorated with blue, white and red colours symbolising the flag of America, many people even wear clothes with the flag printed on them and attend parades, concerts and gatherings with their loved ones. Many also plan small vacations, people arrange or attend barbecue parties in the backyard, everyone enjoys bonfire. The atmosphere is filled with good vibes.
July 4th has a great significance in the history and hearts of Americans. On July 4th 1776, the colonies got independence from Great Britain and America was born. The proposal of declaring the colonies free from the British was brought forward by Richard Henry Lee in a continental Congress meeting in 1776.
After a lot of debate, the proposal was accepted and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia drafted the actual independence document and it came to be known as the Declaration of Independence. People celebrated this day by arranging parades and fireworks. 13 cannons were fired to respect the 13 colonies that marked the birth of a new and independent America. Even after the Declaration of independence came into effect, America continued to fight the revolutionary war and officially defeated Britain in September 1783.