4th of July

The United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4.

John Adams, who later became America’s second president, wrote to his wife in 1776 that the day would be remembered with fireworks and celebrations “from one End of this Continent to the other.”

But the day he was talking about was July 2, 1776, not July 4. July 2 is the day the Continental Congress of the original 13 colonies voted for independence from Britain. Congress did not officially sign the Declaration of Independence, mainly written by Thomas Jefferson, until two days later.

First July 4 celebration

Pauline Maier was a historian who wrote the 1997 book American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. She wrote that in early July of 1777, members of the Continental Congress nearly forgot that it had been a year since they declared their freedom from the British.

They remembered on July 3. It was too late to celebrate on July 2. So, they decided to mark the country’s independence with a celebration the following day: July 4.

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