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July 4th, what's it all about?

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

4th of July is recognized as the official Independence day, but according to John Adams, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, the sovereignty of America should be celebrated on July 2. The day that the Continental Congress voted to become free from Great Britain.

On that day, John Adams wrote, to his wife Abigail, that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

He was so true on that aspect of the holiday.

Why is July 4, 1776 the official day? Because 2 days after the vote, the document was adopted and signed by 56 delegates representing the 13 colonies. Finalizing its legitimacy.

I prefer to celebrate all weekend like we are doing this year.

Some interesting facts about July 4.

  • Thomas Jefferson believed that a new Constitution should be written every 19 years.

In a letter to James Madison, he asked if "one generation of men has the right to bind another," saying that otherwise "the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be the reverse of our principle".

  • 1777, The first 4th of July fireworks show took place in Philadelphia.

  • The Liberty Bell rings 13 times every Independence Day to honor the 13 original states.

  • Descendants of people who signed the Declaration of Independence can go to Philadelphia to tap the bell every year.

  • 1776 some colonists celebrated by holding mock funerals for King George III, as a way of symbolizing the end of his hold on America.

  • 1779, Independence Day fell on a Sunday, so it was celebrated on July 5 instead.

  • George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778 and 1781.

  • 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

  • We were so politically divided by the end of the 18th century that the two major political parties—the Federalist Party and Democratic-Republicans held separate Fourth of July celebrations. Over the years, the political importance declined, but Independence Day remained an important symbol of patriotism.

  • Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe died five years later on July 4, 1831.

  • 1872 Calvin Coolidge was the only president born on the 4th of July.

  • 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.

  • Americans spend over $1 billion on fireworks every year.

  • Americans eat around 150 million hot dogs each Independence Day

I hope that you enjoyed this dive into the history of our great holiday.

July 4 poster of Toni Dee
Built in America


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