02 March 2021 (updated)

Independence Day History: Why We Celebrate the Fourth of July

Do your kids ever ask why we celebrate the Fourth of July? Do you have trouble answering this question? Don't worry, we've got you covered! Here are some important facts about Independence Day history. The Fourth of July is a very important American tradition and the reasons for celebrating go beyond beachside barbecues and family time! So it’s worth knowing a little bit more about the history of Independence Day in America.  The following historical July 4th facts from the original 13 colonies to 50 states today will help boost your patriotic spirit. You might even want to share them with others on a family app!

Why Do We Celebrate Independence Day in the United States?

Independence Day marks the day the original 13 American colonies ratified the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote much of the document, which a committee of 86 others, including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, helped to edit. This established the original 13 colonies as an independent and unified nation separate from Great Britain. Even though the American Revolutionary War did not end until 1783, this bold act ensured the birth of a new nation. Over the years, Americans have celebrated this day, but it didn't become a federal holiday until 1941. Today, the Fourth of July is a reason for celebrations around the nation. Whether it’s celebrated with a parade, family getaway or a barbecue, knowing the history of Independence Day makes a more meaningful American tradition.

Declaration of Independence of the United States history

A Brief History of July 4th in the USA

Fourth of July is famous for patriotic fervor, stars, and stripes, so it's no wonder it started during the American Revolutionary War. Political and philosophical tensions escalated between Great Britain and the 13 colonies prior to the war. While few wanted independence when the war began in 1775, the tide began to shift. On June 7th of 1776, the Continental Congress met to draft a statement to declare independence. Congress officially voted in favor of Independence on July 2, but it didn't officially adopt the resolution until two days later. In 1777, the country officially commemorated July 4 in Philadelphia. Since then, it's been a day of parades, concerts, and fireworks.

What Are Some Fourth of July Moments in History?

July 4, 1776, hasn't been the only significant Fourth of July in the United States! Here are some other July 4th moments over the years:

  • Louisiana Purchase (1803) – This transaction that involved the acquisition of the territory known as Louisiana from the United States occurred in April. However, government leaders officially announced the purchase on Independence Day later that year.
  • Deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (1826) – The dynamic complementary political philosophies of these two founding fathers helped shape American history. So it's quite fitting that they died on the same day that marks the birth of our nation.
  • Slavery Ends in New York City (1827) – The city of New York once had the largest slave population in all of the USA. While a law was passed in 1817 to free all slaves, the law would only take complete effect years later. The real history of Independence Day reveals that the last slave wasn’t free until the Fourth of July in 1827.
  • Hawaii Gets a Star (1960) – The island state of Hawaii became part of the United States in 1959. However, a star wasn’t officially added to the flag as the 50th star until July 4th of the following year!
  • Hotmail hits the Internet (1996) – The electronic mail provider Hotmail got its start ushering in a new era of connectivity. While Gmail is more prominent now, this event brought us email in a new way.

Independence Day History

Independence Day has been an important part of the American tradition since 1776. The Declaration of Independence started it all, and it's still a wonderful time to celebrate patriotism with parades, fireworks, and festivities! Do you have a favorite Independence Day tradition? Share it with us in our comments. Whether you want to learn about American history or simply spend time with family, make a plan for some celebrations!

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