As you’re celebrating Fourth of July this weekend with barbeques and fireworks, you can share a little American history with the other revelers.
When fighting began between Massachusetts militia units and British regulars at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, most colonists, except for a handful of “radicals” weren’t on board with complete independence from Great Britain. But by mid 1776, hostilities mounted, and the sentiment shifted. The colonies band together to form the Continental Army and battle the British.
In June 1776, the Continental Congress met at Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia to hear delegate Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence. Prior to voting, Congress appointed a five-man committee to write a formal statement—the Declaration of Independence.
On July 2nd, delegates voted in favor of Lee’s motion, and on July 4th they officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.
In the early years, some colonists celebrated by holding mock funerals for King George III, to symbolize the end of British reign in America. They held bonfires and parades and public readings of the Declaration.
Did You Know…
- Thomas Jefferson believed that July 2nd was the appropriate day to celebrate Independence Day and refused to attend Fourth of July celebrations.
- Thirteen of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were under 35.
- Congress first authorized pyrotechnics (a.k.a. fireworks) as part of Fourth of July celebrations in July 1777.
- In 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to make July 4th a state holiday.
- After the War of 1812, when the colonies again faced Great Britain, Independence Day festivities became even more intensified.
- Fourth of July is one of only four holidays, including New Years Day, Veterans Day and Christmas celebrated on the same calendar day each year.
- Today, Americans celebrate with more than 14,000 fireworks displays across the nation.
Happy Fourth of July! Have fun; be safe and take a moment to remember how it all began.