Independence Day is right around the corner. How will you be spending it? Lounging on the beach, hosting a barbecue with friends and family or maybe even out of town watching a spectacular fireworks display. Everyone knows that we’re celebrating the independence from Great Britain in 1776, right? Hence “Independence” Day. Today we celebrate this extraordinary moment in U.S. history with fireworks, barbecues and a day at the pool or beach – not exactly how our founding fathers would have celebrated. It’s easy to forget why this holiday came to be and how much of an impact it has made on our lives today.
Did you know that Congress actually voted in favor of independence on July 2, 1776? But it wasn’t until two days later its delegates formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct day to celebrate the birth of American independence, he reportedly would turn down invitations to appear at events on July 4th in protest.
Leading up to the start of the revolution, Great Britain was starting to feel the monetary effects of having to defend the colonies. They started imposing taxes on the colonies which were met with protest and the famous slogan “no taxation without representation”. The Tea Act most famously, led to the Boston Tea Party in December 1773 where American patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians dumped East India Company tea into the Boston harbor. Amidst climbing tensions, British troops were sent to the colonies to control against rebellion. Numerous attempts to solve the impending crisis without military conflict proved useless.
When the first battles of the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775 the only colonists who desired complete independence from Great Britain were considered radical. Over the next year due to growing hostilities between the colonies and the British, more and more people came to favor independence. In June 1776 the Continental Congress met and appointed a five-member committee to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Britain.
Celebration of independence began immediately after its adoption with readings of the Declaration of Independence along with concerts, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777. On the 50th anniversary of American independence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. The deaths of two of the founding fathers on this day further established July 4 as the day to celebrate independence. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday and in 1941 the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Over the years the holiday