Independence Day – July 4th


July 4th (Independence Day)  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 (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. The History Channel has a great infographic of interesting facts about how Americans celebrate Independence Day.  They also have a lot more great info on The Birth of American Independence, check out these entertaining and informative links: 

Did you know that…

The essence of July 4th remains important to most Americans after two centuries since the Declaration of Independence has been signed. While it is one of the days that most people in the US look forward to, its historical significance has remained a crucial reason why this day is commemorated all over the nation.

Fourth of July Origin

Two years after the Declaration of Independence, George Washington celebrated July 4th in 1778 by issuing double rations of rum to his soldiers. Three years later, Massachusetts became the first state to declare July 4th as a state holiday.

The Declaration of Independence has been celebrated for more than two centuries now. Bristol, Rhode Island is home to the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration, which dates back to 1785. However, festivities only became widespread at the end of the war of 1812.

The name ‘Uncle Sam’, which symbolizes the United States government is said to have begun in 1812. The name comes from the meat packer Samuel Wilson who provided meat to the US Army. The meat delivered was stamped with ‘U.S.’ which many people joked stands for Uncle Sam. Eventually, Uncle Sam symbolized the United States government.

In 1826, founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on Independence Day. This is 50 years to the day after Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. It was only in 1941 that Congress declared Independence Day as a federal legal holiday.

July 4th Traditions

At present, people celebrate the Declaration of Independence by attending and setting off their own fireworks displays, inviting families and friends for a barbecue, picnic, or cookout, and displaying the American flag while getting together with family or watching a Fourth of July parade.
Passing on the tradition

In the last two centuries, traditional ways of celebrating the declaration of independence have emerged. One of these traditions is the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which began in Coney Island in 1916.

After a hundred years of tradition, the record to beat is eating 68 hot dogs including buns in 10 minutes. This contest reflects how most Americans prefer to eat hot dogs in the fourth of July. In fact, it has been estimated that about 150 million hot dogs are consumed during this day. That number is enough to stretch from Washington DC to Los Angeles five times. It’s a busy time for Iowa as 1/3 of all the hot dogs produced in the US comes from this state.

Another tradition that is being practiced each year is the fireworks show. Each year, more than 14,000 Fourth of July fireworks are displayed across the nation. The largest in the country is Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show in New York City. The display is composed of more than 40,000 shells launched and 12,000 pounds of black powder used to launch these shells.

Generally, the staple for this spectacular day include barbeques, music, picnics, cold drinks, and fireworks. However, it is to the Founding Fathers specifically George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and James Monroe to whom America owes this day to.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Fourth of July

Do you know that most signers of the Declaration of Independence signed the document on the 2nd of August 1776? Only two signed the declaration on the 4th of July. The major objection that propelled the need for independence from Britain was taxation without representation.

To protect the signers, their names were withheld for more than six months from the public. Had the independence not been achieved, those who signed the declaration could have been executed due to their treasonable act. Thomas McKean, out of 56 men who signed the declaration, was the last to sign the document in 1777.

In May 1776, the colonies sent delegates to represent them to the Second Continental Congress. A month later, a committee was formed for the purpose of composing the formal Declaration of Independence.

This committee was headed by Thomas Jefferson. Among the members of the committee include Roger Sherman, John Adams, Philip Livingston, and Benjamin Franklin. On the 28th of June 1776, the first draft of the declaration was presented to Congress by Thomas Jefferson.

According to legend, Betsy Ross, as commissioned by the Congressional Committee sewed the first American flag. This flag was waved to the Americans during the first celebration of Independence Day on July 8, 1776 in Philadelphia. On this day, the Liberty Bell sounded from the Independence Hall summoning the citizens to the gather. Colonel John Nixon publicly read the Declaration of Independence.

Almost a year after the declaration, the Continental Congress adopted the national flag in the interest of promoting unity and national pride. It was not until 1804, however, until the first public event for the Fourth of July was held at the White House.

Before cars were invented, this day of the year tormented horses because of the noise in the streets and the loud bangs from firecrackers. A year after the first public event in White House, Lewis and Clark celebrated the Independence Day. This was the first Independence Day celebrated west of Mississippi.

Although fireworks have been used to celebrate important occasions long before American Revolution, the founding fathers of America believed in the tradition of using fireworks to celebrate independence. As John Adams wrote to his wife on one of his most popular letters, this holiday deserves the illumination of fireworks. About 2.5 million people saw these fireworks during the first celebration of independence.

Aside from the United States, other nations that celebrate the Fourth of July include Sweden, Denmark, England, Portugal and Norway. This is due to the thousands of US immigrants who reside in these areas. Most of these celebrations are held near tourist destinations. On the other hand, the Philippines is the only country that gained its independence from the United States on the Fourth of July in 1946.

Finally, conspiracy theorists ask if there is a treasure map at the back of the Declaration of Independence. Truth is, there is a message that was written at the bottom of the signed document that says: Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776. While this does not make a very exciting addition to a movie plot, it is nonetheless interesting as nobody knows for sure who wrote it and for what.

The 4th of July holiday is a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers, often involving fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The holiday also represents the height of summer vacation season.  Everybody deserves a little time off.  If you need extra money to make that vacation happen give us a call at 800-892-3006 or stop by any office. We’re always happy to do anything we can to help.

Enjoy the holiday and be safe!