THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The United States Declares Independence From Britain

On July 4 1776, the Continental Congress of the United States of America approved the Declaration of Independence, a revolutionary document in which the thirteen American colonies declared their freedom from British rule because of what they felt was oppression from the British government.

Yet, it was actually on July 2 that the delegates voted on the declaration, while the document wasn’t written and printed until the fourth. This document was largely the work of Thomas Jefferson, a delegate from the colony of Virginia, who was only 33 years old at that time.

Two days later, on July 4, the declaration was formally adopted by 12 colonies after minor revision. New York approved it on July 19, and on August 2 1776, the declaration was signed by 56 delegates. Also, Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell wasn’t rung on July 4 1776. This big moment came four days later on July 8, and also featured the first public reading of the declaration.

The American War of Independence would last for five more years, with the final victory for the colonists coming at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.

 No fewer than three presidents, all of them among America’s founding fathers – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe – died on July 4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died hours apart on July 4 1826, fifty years after the declaration of independence from Britain, while James Monroe died on July 4 1831.

The American congress first authorised pyrotechnics as part of independence day celebration on July 4 1777. And now, more than 14,000 firework displays go off around the country during each independence day celebration. The largest of this is the Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular in New York City where some 75,000 pounds of fireworks go off during the roughly half-hour show, attended by nearly two million people.

July 4 is also one of the federal holidays approved by the United States government, the others being – New Year’s Day (January 1), Veteran’s Day (November 11), and Christmas Day (December 25).

Also, the red and white stripes on the American flag – thirteen in all – represent the colonies at the time of independence. While the stars – fifty in total – represent the states that make up the modern United States.

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