Independence Day (United States)

Independence Day (United States)

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Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

 on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

 of the United States.

Background


During the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

 voted to approve a resolution of independence
Lee Resolution
right|thumb|[[Richard Henry Lee]] proposed the resolution on June 7, 1776.The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire...

 that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States...

 of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five
Committee of Five
The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress drafted and presented to the Congress what became known as America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776...

, with Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day later, John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 had written to his wife Abigail
Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth...

:
Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

There is no question that July 4, 1776 is the date that the Congress approved the final official document, having voted to declare independence two days earlier. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 all later wrote that they had also signed it on that day. However, most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

, the 5th President, died on July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, was the only President to be born on Independence Day.

Observance


  • In 1777, thirteen gunshot
    Gunshot
    A gunshot is the discharge of a firearm, producing a mechanical sound effect and a chemical gunshot residue. The term can also refer to a gunshot wound caused by such a discharge. Multiple discharges of a firearm or firearms are referred to as gunfire. The word can connotate either the sound of a...

    s were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island
    Bristol, Rhode Island
    Bristol is a town in and the historic county seat of Bristol County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 22,954 at the 2010 census. Bristol, a deepwater seaport, is named after Bristol, England....

    . Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
  • In 1778, General George Washington
    George Washington
    George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

     marked July 4 with a double ration of rum
    Rum
    Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

     for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

     held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
  • In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
  • In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court
    Massachusetts General Court
    The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the Colonial Era, when this body also sat in judgment of judicial appeals cases...

     became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
  • In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter
    Johann Friedrich Peter
    Johann Friedrich Peter was an American composer of German origin. He emigrated to the United States in 1770, and for a time served as an organist and violinist with Unity of the Brethren congregations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania...

    . This work was titled "The Psalm of Joy".
  • In 1791 the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day" occurred.
  • In 1820 the first Fourth of July celebration was held in Eastport, Maine which remains the largest in the state.
  • In 1870, the U.S. Congress
    United States Congress
    The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

     made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
  • In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.

Customs



Independence Day is a national holiday
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

 marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

 and federal courts
United States federal courts
The United States federal courts make up the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.-Categories:...

) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and people.

Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

. Parades are often in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations, marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from hogsheads and barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall, to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,407 at the 2000 census. It and Lawrence are the county seats of Essex County...

, composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels; these are the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and is still practiced in some New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 towns.

Independence Day fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

 are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

 "The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

", "God Bless America
God Bless America
"God Bless America" is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938. The later version has notably been recorded by Kate Smith, becoming her signature song ....

", "America the Beautiful
America the Beautiful
"America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward....

", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee
My Country, 'Tis of Thee
"My Country, 'Tis of Thee", also known as "America", is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody derived from Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3, and is shared with "God Save the Queen," used by many members of the Commonwealth of Nations...

", "This Land Is Your Land
This Land Is Your Land
"This Land Is Your Land" is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on...

", "Stars and Stripes Forever", and, regionally, "Yankee Doodle
Yankee Doodle
"Yankee Doodle" is a well-known Anglo-American song, the origin of which dates back to the Seven Years' War. It is often sung patriotically in the United States today and is the state anthem of Connecticut...

" in northeastern states and "Dixie
Dixie (song)
Countless lyrical variants of "Dixie" exist, but the version attributed to Dan Emmett and its variations are the most popular. Emmett's lyrics as they were originally intended reflect the mood of the United States in the late 1850s toward growing abolitionist sentiment. The song presented the point...

" in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed. Illicit traffic
Smuggling
Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

 transfers many fireworks from less restrictive states.

A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.

In 2009, New York City had the largest fireworks display in the country, with over 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded. Other major displays are in Chicago on Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the Charles River
Charles River
The Charles River is an long river that flows in an overall northeasterly direction in eastern Massachusetts, USA. From its source in Hopkinton, the river travels through 22 cities and towns until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Boston...

; in St. Louis on the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

; in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean...

; and on the National Mall
National Mall
The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

 in Washington, D.C..
During the annual Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
The International Freedom Festival is a multi-day celebration in early July marking Canada Day on July 1 and the American Independence Day on July 4. Detroit, Michigan, USA and Windsor, Ontario, Canada jointly celebrate the multi-day festival which draws about 3.5 million visitors. The...

, Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world's largest fireworks displays, over the Detroit River
Detroit River
The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

, to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario
Windsor, Ontario
Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

's celebration of Canada Day
Canada Day
Canada Day , formerly Dominion Day , is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act , which united three British colonies into a single country, called Canada, within the British Empire...

.

While the official observance always falls on July , participation levels may vary according to which day of the week the 4th falls on. If the holiday falls in the middle of the week, some fireworks displays and celebrations may take place during the weekend for convenience, again, varying by region.

The first week of July is typically one of the busiest American travel periods of the year, as many people utilize the holiday for extended vacation trips.

Unique or historical celebrations


  • Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade
    Bristol Fourth of July Parade
    Bristol Fourth of July Parade , founded in 1785, is a nationally known Fourth of July parade in Bristol, Rhode Island. The parade is part of the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in the United States of America.-History:The annual official and historic celebrations were established in...

     in Bristol, Rhode Island
    Bristol, Rhode Island
    Bristol is a town in and the historic county seat of Bristol County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 22,954 at the 2010 census. Bristol, a deepwater seaport, is named after Bristol, England....

     is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
  • Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska
    Seward, Nebraska
    Seward is a city in Seward County, Nebraska, United States. It is part of the Lincoln, Nebraska Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,133 at the 2000 census...

     has held a celebration on the same town square. In 1979 Seward was designated “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City” by Governor James Exon in proclamation. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to 40,000+ during the July 4 celebrations.
  • Since 1912, the Society, a Danish-American friendship organization, has held a July 4 weekend festival that serves as a homecoming for Danish-Americans in the
    {{Redirect6|Fourth of July|the date|July 4||4th of July}}
    {{sprotected2}}
    {{HolidayInfo|
    | image=Fourth of July fireworks behind the Washington Monument, 1986.jpg
    | caption=Displays of fireworks, such as these over the
    Washington Monument
    Washington Monument
    The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

    , take place across the United States on Independence Day.
    | holiday_name={{white|Independence Day}}
    | nickname=The Fourth of July
    The Fourth
    | significance=The day the Declaration of Independence
    United States Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

     was adopted by the Continental Congress
    Second Continental Congress
    The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...


    | observedby=United States
    | date=July 4
    | celebrations=Fireworks
    Fireworks
    Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

    , Family reunion
    Family reunion
    A family reunion is an occasion when many members of an extended family get together. Sometimes reunions are held regularly, for example on the same date of every year....

    s, Concerts, Barbecue
    Barbecue
    Barbecue or barbeque , used chiefly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, poultry and occasionally fish with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of...

    s, Picnic
    Picnic
    In contemporary usage, a picnic can be defined simply as a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors , ideally taking place in a beautiful landscape such as a park, beside a lake or with an interesting view and possibly at a public event such as before an open air theatre performance,...

    s, Parade
    Parade
    A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind...

    s, Baseball games
    | type=National
    }}
    Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence
    United States Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

     on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain
    Kingdom of Great Britain
    The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

    . Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks
    Fireworks
    Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

    , parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day
    National Day
    The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

     of the United States.

    Background


    During the American Revolution
    American Revolution
    The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

    , the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies
    Thirteen Colonies
    The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

     from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress
    Second Continental Congress
    The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

     voted to approve a resolution of independence
    Lee Resolution
    right|thumb|[[Richard Henry Lee]] proposed the resolution on June 7, 1776.The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire...

     that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee
    Richard Henry Lee
    Richard Henry Lee was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States...

     of Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

     declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence
    United States Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

    , a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five
    Committee of Five
    The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress drafted and presented to the Congress what became known as America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776...

    , with Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

     as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day later, John Adams
    John Adams
    John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

     had written to his wife Abigail
    Abigail Adams
    Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth...

    :

    {{quote|The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. }}

    Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

    There is no question that July 4, 1776 is the date that the Congress approved the final official document, having voted to declare independence two days earlier. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

     all later wrote that they had also signed it on that day. However, most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

    In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States
    President of the United States
    The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

    , died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe
    James Monroe
    James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

    , the 5th President, died on July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge
    Calvin Coolidge
    John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

    , the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, was the only President to be born on Independence Day.

    Observance


    • In 1777, thirteen gunshot
      Gunshot
      A gunshot is the discharge of a firearm, producing a mechanical sound effect and a chemical gunshot residue. The term can also refer to a gunshot wound caused by such a discharge. Multiple discharges of a firearm or firearms are referred to as gunfire. The word can connotate either the sound of a...

      s were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island
      Bristol, Rhode Island
      Bristol is a town in and the historic county seat of Bristol County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 22,954 at the 2010 census. Bristol, a deepwater seaport, is named after Bristol, England....

      . Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
    • In 1778, General George Washington
      George Washington
      George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

       marked July 4 with a double ration of rum
      Rum
      Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

       for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin
      Benjamin Franklin
      Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

       held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
    • In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
    • In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court
      Massachusetts General Court
      The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the Colonial Era, when this body also sat in judgment of judicial appeals cases...

       became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
    • In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter
      Johann Friedrich Peter
      Johann Friedrich Peter was an American composer of German origin. He emigrated to the United States in 1770, and for a time served as an organist and violinist with Unity of the Brethren congregations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania...

      . This work was titled "The Psalm of Joy".
    • In 1791 the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day" occurred.
    • In 1820 the first Fourth of July celebration was held in Eastport, Maine which remains the largest in the state.
    • In 1870, the U.S. Congress
      United States Congress
      The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

       made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
    • In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.

    Customs



    Independence Day is a national holiday
    National Day
    The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

     marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service
    United States Postal Service
    The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

     and federal courts
    United States federal courts
    The United States federal courts make up the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.-Categories:...

    ) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and people.

    Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag
    Flag of the United States
    The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

    . Parades are often in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

    The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations, marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England
    New England
    New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

    , towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from hogsheads and barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall, to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts
    Salem, Massachusetts
    Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,407 at the 2000 census. It and Lawrence are the county seats of Essex County...

    , composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels; these are the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and is still practiced in some New England
    New England
    New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

     towns.

    Independence Day fireworks
    Fireworks
    Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

     are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem
    National anthem
    A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

     "The Star-Spangled Banner
    The Star-Spangled Banner
    "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

    ", "God Bless America
    God Bless America
    "God Bless America" is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938. The later version has notably been recorded by Kate Smith, becoming her signature song ....

    ", "America the Beautiful
    America the Beautiful
    "America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward....

    ", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee
    My Country, 'Tis of Thee
    "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", also known as "America", is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody derived from Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3, and is shared with "God Save the Queen," used by many members of the Commonwealth of Nations...

    ", "This Land Is Your Land
    This Land Is Your Land
    "This Land Is Your Land" is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on...

    ", "Stars and Stripes Forever", and, regionally, "Yankee Doodle
    Yankee Doodle
    "Yankee Doodle" is a well-known Anglo-American song, the origin of which dates back to the Seven Years' War. It is often sung patriotically in the United States today and is the state anthem of Connecticut...

    " in northeastern states and "Dixie
    Dixie (song)
    Countless lyrical variants of "Dixie" exist, but the version attributed to Dan Emmett and its variations are the most popular. Emmett's lyrics as they were originally intended reflect the mood of the United States in the late 1850s toward growing abolitionist sentiment. The song presented the point...

    " in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812
    War of 1812
    The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

    .

    Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed. Illicit traffic
    Smuggling
    Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

     transfers many fireworks from less restrictive states.

    A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.

    In 2009, New York City had the largest fireworks display in the country, with over 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded. Other major displays are in Chicago on Lake Michigan
    Lake Michigan
    Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

    ; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the Charles River
    Charles River
    The Charles River is an long river that flows in an overall northeasterly direction in eastern Massachusetts, USA. From its source in Hopkinton, the river travels through 22 cities and towns until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Boston...

    ; in St. Louis on the Mississippi River
    Mississippi River
    The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

    ; in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay
    San Francisco Bay
    San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean...

    ; and on the National Mall
    National Mall
    The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

     in Washington, D.C..
    During the annual Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
    Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
    The International Freedom Festival is a multi-day celebration in early July marking Canada Day on July 1 and the American Independence Day on July 4. Detroit, Michigan, USA and Windsor, Ontario, Canada jointly celebrate the multi-day festival which draws about 3.5 million visitors. The...

    , Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world's largest fireworks displays, over the Detroit River
    Detroit River
    The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

    , to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario
    Windsor, Ontario
    Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

    's celebration of Canada Day
    Canada Day
    Canada Day , formerly Dominion Day , is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act , which united three British colonies into a single country, called Canada, within the British Empire...

    .

    While the official observance always falls on July {{typo|4th}}, participation levels may vary according to which day of the week the 4th falls on. If the holiday falls in the middle of the week, some fireworks displays and celebrations may take place during the weekend for convenience, again, varying by region.

    The first week of July is typically one of the busiest American travel periods of the year, as many people utilize the holiday for extended vacation trips.
    {{-}}

    Unique or historical celebrations


    • Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade
      Bristol Fourth of July Parade
      Bristol Fourth of July Parade , founded in 1785, is a nationally known Fourth of July parade in Bristol, Rhode Island. The parade is part of the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in the United States of America.-History:The annual official and historic celebrations were established in...

       in Bristol, Rhode Island
      Bristol, Rhode Island
      Bristol is a town in and the historic county seat of Bristol County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 22,954 at the 2010 census. Bristol, a deepwater seaport, is named after Bristol, England....

       is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
    • Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska
      Seward, Nebraska
      Seward is a city in Seward County, Nebraska, United States. It is part of the Lincoln, Nebraska Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,133 at the 2000 census...

       has held a celebration on the same town square. In 1979 Seward was designated “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City” by Governor James Exon in proclamation. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to 40,000+ during the July 4 celebrations.
    • Since 1912, the {{typo|Rebild}} Society, a Danish-American friendship organization, has held a July 4 weekend festival that serves as a homecoming for Danish-Americans in the
      {{Redirect6|Fourth of July|the date|July 4||4th of July}}
      {{sprotected2}}
      {{HolidayInfo|
      | image=Fourth of July fireworks behind the Washington Monument, 1986.jpg
      | caption=Displays of fireworks, such as these over the
      Washington Monument
      Washington Monument
      The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

      , take place across the United States on Independence Day.
      | holiday_name={{white|Independence Day}}
      | nickname=The Fourth of July
      The Fourth
      | significance=The day the Declaration of Independence
      United States Declaration of Independence
      The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

       was adopted by the Continental Congress
      Second Continental Congress
      The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...


      | observedby=United States
      | date=July 4
      | celebrations=Fireworks
      Fireworks
      Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

      , Family reunion
      Family reunion
      A family reunion is an occasion when many members of an extended family get together. Sometimes reunions are held regularly, for example on the same date of every year....

      s, Concerts, Barbecue
      Barbecue
      Barbecue or barbeque , used chiefly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, poultry and occasionally fish with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of...

      s, Picnic
      Picnic
      In contemporary usage, a picnic can be defined simply as a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors , ideally taking place in a beautiful landscape such as a park, beside a lake or with an interesting view and possibly at a public event such as before an open air theatre performance,...

      s, Parade
      Parade
      A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind...

      s, Baseball games
      | type=National
      }}
      Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence
      United States Declaration of Independence
      The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

       on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain
      Kingdom of Great Britain
      The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

      . Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks
      Fireworks
      Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

      , parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day
      National Day
      The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

       of the United States.

      Background


      During the American Revolution
      American Revolution
      The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

      , the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies
      Thirteen Colonies
      The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

       from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress
      Second Continental Congress
      The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

       voted to approve a resolution of independence
      Lee Resolution
      right|thumb|[[Richard Henry Lee]] proposed the resolution on June 7, 1776.The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire...

       that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee
      Richard Henry Lee
      Richard Henry Lee was an American statesman from Virginia best known for the motion in the Second Continental Congress calling for the colonies' independence from Great Britain. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and his famous resolution of June 1776 led to the United States...

       of Virginia
      Virginia
      The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

       declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence
      United States Declaration of Independence
      The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

      , a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five
      Committee of Five
      The Committee of Five of the Second Continental Congress drafted and presented to the Congress what became known as America's Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776...

      , with Thomas Jefferson
      Thomas Jefferson
      Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

       as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day later, John Adams
      John Adams
      John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

       had written to his wife Abigail
      Abigail Adams
      Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth...

      :

      {{quote|The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. }}

      Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

      There is no question that July 4, 1776 is the date that the Congress approved the final official document, having voted to declare independence two days earlier. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin
      Benjamin Franklin
      Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

       all later wrote that they had also signed it on that day. However, most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

      In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States
      President of the United States
      The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

      , died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, James Monroe
      James Monroe
      James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

      , the 5th President, died on July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge
      Calvin Coolidge
      John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

      , the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, was the only President to be born on Independence Day.

      Observance


      • In 1777, thirteen gunshot
        Gunshot
        A gunshot is the discharge of a firearm, producing a mechanical sound effect and a chemical gunshot residue. The term can also refer to a gunshot wound caused by such a discharge. Multiple discharges of a firearm or firearms are referred to as gunfire. The word can connotate either the sound of a...

        s were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island
        Bristol, Rhode Island
        Bristol is a town in and the historic county seat of Bristol County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 22,954 at the 2010 census. Bristol, a deepwater seaport, is named after Bristol, England....

        . Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
      • In 1778, General George Washington
        George Washington
        George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

         marked July 4 with a double ration of rum
        Rum
        Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

         for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin
        Benjamin Franklin
        Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

         held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
      • In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
      • In 1781 the Massachusetts General Court
        Massachusetts General Court
        The Massachusetts General Court is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The name "General Court" is a hold-over from the Colonial Era, when this body also sat in judgment of judicial appeals cases...

         became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
      • In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter
        Johann Friedrich Peter
        Johann Friedrich Peter was an American composer of German origin. He emigrated to the United States in 1770, and for a time served as an organist and violinist with Unity of the Brethren congregations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania...

        . This work was titled "The Psalm of Joy".
      • In 1791 the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day" occurred.
      • In 1820 the first Fourth of July celebration was held in Eastport, Maine which remains the largest in the state.
      • In 1870, the U.S. Congress
        United States Congress
        The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

         made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
      • In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.

      Customs



      Independence Day is a national holiday
      National Day
      The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

       marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service
      United States Postal Service
      The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

       and federal courts
      United States federal courts
      The United States federal courts make up the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.-Categories:...

      ) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and people.

      Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag
      Flag of the United States
      The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

      . Parades are often in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

      The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations, marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England
      New England
      New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

      , towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from hogsheads and barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall, to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts
      Salem, Massachusetts
      Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,407 at the 2000 census. It and Lawrence are the county seats of Essex County...

      , composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels; these are the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and is still practiced in some New England
      New England
      New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

       towns.

      Independence Day fireworks
      Fireworks
      Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

       are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem
      National anthem
      A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

       "The Star-Spangled Banner
      The Star-Spangled Banner
      "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

      ", "God Bless America
      God Bless America
      "God Bless America" is an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938. The later version has notably been recorded by Kate Smith, becoming her signature song ....

      ", "America the Beautiful
      America the Beautiful
      "America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and the music composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward....

      ", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee
      My Country, 'Tis of Thee
      "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", also known as "America", is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody derived from Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3, and is shared with "God Save the Queen," used by many members of the Commonwealth of Nations...

      ", "This Land Is Your Land
      This Land Is Your Land
      "This Land Is Your Land" is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on...

      ", "Stars and Stripes Forever", and, regionally, "Yankee Doodle
      Yankee Doodle
      "Yankee Doodle" is a well-known Anglo-American song, the origin of which dates back to the Seven Years' War. It is often sung patriotically in the United States today and is the state anthem of Connecticut...

      " in northeastern states and "Dixie
      Dixie (song)
      Countless lyrical variants of "Dixie" exist, but the version attributed to Dan Emmett and its variations are the most popular. Emmett's lyrics as they were originally intended reflect the mood of the United States in the late 1850s toward growing abolitionist sentiment. The song presented the point...

      " in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812
      War of 1812
      The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

      .

      Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and types allowed. Illicit traffic
      Smuggling
      Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

       transfers many fireworks from less restrictive states.

      A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a “salute to the union,” is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.

      In 2009, New York City had the largest fireworks display in the country, with over 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded. Other major displays are in Chicago on Lake Michigan
      Lake Michigan
      Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

      ; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston on the Charles River
      Charles River
      The Charles River is an long river that flows in an overall northeasterly direction in eastern Massachusetts, USA. From its source in Hopkinton, the river travels through 22 cities and towns until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Boston...

      ; in St. Louis on the Mississippi River
      Mississippi River
      The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

      ; in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay
      San Francisco Bay
      San Francisco Bay is a shallow, productive estuary through which water draining from approximately forty percent of California, flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers from the Sierra Nevada mountains, enters the Pacific Ocean...

      ; and on the National Mall
      National Mall
      The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

       in Washington, D.C..
      During the annual Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
      Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
      The International Freedom Festival is a multi-day celebration in early July marking Canada Day on July 1 and the American Independence Day on July 4. Detroit, Michigan, USA and Windsor, Ontario, Canada jointly celebrate the multi-day festival which draws about 3.5 million visitors. The...

      , Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world's largest fireworks displays, over the Detroit River
      Detroit River
      The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

      , to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction with Windsor, Ontario
      Windsor, Ontario
      Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

      's celebration of Canada Day
      Canada Day
      Canada Day , formerly Dominion Day , is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act , which united three British colonies into a single country, called Canada, within the British Empire...

      .

      While the official observance always falls on July {{typo|4th}}, participation levels may vary according to which day of the week the 4th falls on. If the holiday falls in the middle of the week, some fireworks displays and celebrations may take place during the weekend for convenience, again, varying by region.

      The first week of July is typically one of the busiest American travel periods of the year, as many people utilize the holiday for extended vacation trips.
      {{-}}

      Unique or historical celebrations


      • Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade
        Bristol Fourth of July Parade
        Bristol Fourth of July Parade , founded in 1785, is a nationally known Fourth of July parade in Bristol, Rhode Island. The parade is part of the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in the United States of America.-History:The annual official and historic celebrations were established in...

         in Bristol, Rhode Island
        Bristol, Rhode Island
        Bristol is a town in and the historic county seat of Bristol County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 22,954 at the 2010 census. Bristol, a deepwater seaport, is named after Bristol, England....

         is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
      • Since 1868, Seward, Nebraska
        Seward, Nebraska
        Seward is a city in Seward County, Nebraska, United States. It is part of the Lincoln, Nebraska Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,133 at the 2000 census...

         has held a celebration on the same town square. In 1979 Seward was designated “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA” by resolution of Congress. Seward has also been proclaimed Nebraska’s Official Fourth of July City” by Governor James Exon in proclamation. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to 40,000+ during the July 4 celebrations.
      • Since 1912, the {{typo|Rebild}} Society, a Danish-American friendship organization, has held a July 4 weekend festival that serves as a homecoming for Danish-Americans in the {{typo
        Rebild municipality
        Rebild municipality is a municipality in North Denmark Region in Denmark. It covers an area of 628 km² and a total population of 28,753 ....

         section of Denmark
        Denmark
        Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

        .
      • Since 1916, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
        Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
        The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual American competitive-eating competition, which is run as a publicity gathering event by Shea Communications. It is held each July 4 at Nathan's Famous Corporation's original, and best-known restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in...

         in Coney Island
        Coney Island
        Coney Island is a peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brooklyn, New York, United States. The site was formerly an outer barrier island, but became partially connected to the mainland by landfill....

        , Brooklyn
        Brooklyn
        Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

        , New York City supposedly started as a way to settle a dispute among four immigrants as to who was the most patriotic.
      • Since 1959, the International Freedom Festival
        Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival
        The International Freedom Festival is a multi-day celebration in early July marking Canada Day on July 1 and the American Independence Day on July 4. Detroit, Michigan, USA and Windsor, Ontario, Canada jointly celebrate the multi-day festival which draws about 3.5 million visitors. The...

         is jointly held in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario
        Windsor, Ontario
        Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

         during the last week of June each year as a mutual celebration of Independence Day and Canada Day
        Canada Day
        Canada Day , formerly Dominion Day , is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act , which united three British colonies into a single country, called Canada, within the British Empire...

         (July 1). It culminates in a large fireworks display over the Detroit River
        Detroit River
        The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

        .
      • Numerous major
        Major League Baseball
        Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

         and minor league
        Minor league baseball
        Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball and provide opportunities for player development. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses...

         baseball games are played on Independence Day.
      • The famous Macy's
        Macy's
        Macy's is a U.S. chain of mid-to-high range department stores. In addition to its flagship Herald Square location in New York City, the company operates over 800 stores in the United States...

         fireworks display usually held over the East River
        East River
        The East River is a tidal strait in New York City. It connects Upper New York Bay on its south end to Long Island Sound on its north end. It separates Long Island from the island of Manhattan and the Bronx on the North American mainland...

         in New York City has been televised nationwide on NBC
        NBC
        The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

         since 1976. In 2009, the fireworks display was returned to the Hudson River
        Hudson River
        The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

         for the first time since 2000 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson
        Henry Hudson
        Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator in the early 17th century. Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a prospective Northeast Passage to Cathay via a route above the Arctic Circle...

        's exploration of that river.
      • Since 1970, the annual 10 kilometer Peachtree Road Race
        Peachtree Road Race
        The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race 10K is a 10 kilometer road race held annually in Atlanta, Georgia on July 4, Independence Day. The Peachtree Road Race was until recently the world's largest 10 kilometer race , a title it has held since the late 1970s...

         is held in Atlanta, Georgia
        Georgia (U.S. state)
        Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

        .
      • The Boston Pops Orchestra
        Boston Pops Orchestra
        The Boston Pops Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts, that specializes in playing light classical and popular music....

         has hosted a music and fireworks show over the Charles River Esplanade called the "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" annually since 1973. The event was broadcast nationally from 1987 until 2002 on the A&E Network
        A&E Network
        The A&E Network is a United States-based cable and satellite television network with headquarters in New York City and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, London, Los Angeles and Stamford. A&E also airs in Canada and Latin America. Initially named the Arts & Entertainment Network, A&E launched...

        , and has aired since 2003 on CBS
        CBS
        CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

        .
      • On the Capitol
        United States Capitol
        The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

         lawn in Washington, D.C., “A Capitol Fourth
        A Capitol Fourth
        A Capitol Fourth is a free annual concert performed on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the Independence Day. Broadcast live on PBS and NPR, the concert is viewed and heard by millions across The United States and the world, as well as...

        ,” a free concert, precedes the fireworks and attracts over half a million people annually.

      External links


      {{Commons category|Fourth of July}}
      • U.S. Independence Day a Civic and Social Event U.S. State Department, June 22, 2010
      • The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro by Frederick Douglass
        Frederick Douglass
        Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing...

      • Fourth of July Orations Collection at the Division of Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books, Ellis Library
        Ellis Library
        Constructed in 1914, Ellis Library is the main library of the University of Missouri System located on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. It was named for former university president Elmer Ellis...

        , University of Missouri
        University of Missouri
        The University of Missouri System is a state university system providing centralized administration for four universities, a health care system, an extension program, five research and technology parks, and a publishing press. More than 64,000 students are currently enrolled at its four campuses...

      • The Fourth of July, Back in the Day – slideshow by Life magazine


      {{US Federal Holidays}}
      {{US Holidays}}
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