The 4th of July is Independence Day in America.
Learn why it is celebrated!
In America the 4th of July, or Independence Day, is a federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of the Independence on July 4th 1776.
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How the Declaration of independence came about.
During America’s first 150 years, most of the settlers came from Great Britain. Along America’s Atlantic coast, these colonists built settlements that became what are commonly called the ‘Original Thirteen Colonies‘.
The British settlers lived under the rule of the King of England. They worked hard building homes, farms and towns, even though they did not own these places. The settlers worked so hard that they wanted to be involved in making decisions about their lives and property.
The British knew that the colonists wanted independence. But the British, instead, tried to take more control of the colonists. By the mid-1770s, King George III and the British government taxed everyday goods, such as tea. Colonists resented these revenue measures for the Crown and objected to the British interference.
By the time the Second Continental Congress met in May 1775 to discuss stronger action for independence, tensions in the American colonies ran very high. Colonists who did not wish to remain British subjects declared themselves ‘Patriots’ and those who remained faithful to England called themselves ‘Loyalists’.
On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee of five men to write a Declaration of Independence from British Rule. Those five men were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson wrote the first draft. The committee declared it to be almost perfect. The committee presented the document to the Congress after making a few corrections. Following a few more changes, Thomas Jefferson’s work was approved. Church bells rang out on July 4th 1776, the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the US Nation was officially born.
The Declaration of Independence has five parts. They are the Preamble, the Statement of Human Rights, Charges Against Human Rights, Charges Against the King and Parliament, and the Statement of Separation and Signatures.
The main purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to announce the colonies separation from England. It also stated the principles that were the foundation for seeking independence.
The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and are entitled to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. These ideas would be expressed again in the new republic’s Constitution. These ideas form the basis of the beliefs about the role of our government in the US today.
Interesting Facts about the 4th of July!
- According to legend, Betsy Ross, sewed the first American flag in May or June 1776, as commissioned by the Congressional Committee.
- June 14th 1777, the Continental Congress, looking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. ‘Resolved – that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white and that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation’. It was to be 13 stars and stripes, because of the original 13 Colonies founded.
- The Liberty Bell sounded from the tower of Independence Hall on July 8th 1776, summoning citizens to gather for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.
- The word ‘patriotism’ comes from the Latin patria, which means ‘homeland’ or ‘fatherland.’
- The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804.
- On June 24th 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining an invitation to come to Washington D.C. to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It was the last letter that Jefferson, who was very ill, ever wrote.
- Strangely, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were on the committee of 5 men who wrote the Declaration of Independence, died on Independence Day July 4th 1826. Exactly 50 years to the day that the Declaration of Independence was declared!