On June 11, 1776, the Colonies’ Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia for the sole purpose of drafting a formal document to declare the Thirteen Colonies free and independent from Great Britain. From then until July 2nd, when they secretly voted for separation, eighty-six changes were made to the document largely written by their most eloquent writer, Thomas Jefferson. The final adaption was July 4, 1776, marking why we celebrate on the 4th instead of the 2nd. However, since the official vote was on the 2nd, John Adams refused to acknowledge the 4th.
On July 2nd, John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, that the day “will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival” and that the celebrations should include “pomp and parade, games and sports, guns and bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other”. Over the course of his life, Adams vehemently refused any invitation extended to him by friends and family for a gathering on the 4th, instead having his own parties the 2nd.
July 5th, over 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence were printed and distributed, great parties were held and parades filled the streets. On the 6th, The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the wonderful document. The first official public reading was on July 8th in a very large gathering of people followed by more festivities.
The first anniversary in 1777 was celebrated with as much gusto as was manageable in the ongoing war. George Washington ordered double the rations of rum for all his soldiers on each anniversary for their own celebration. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence in 1777 with parades and fireworks, while Massachusetts was the first state to recognize the fourth as an official holiday in 1781. Following the end of the American Revolution in 1783, our secured independence from the British monarchy, there was the largest celebration through the country which lasted for days.
We have referred to this momentous day as 4th of July since as far back as 1779, Independence Day since 1790. No matter how you refer to this day, it marks the birth of a beautiful new nation. While we have celebrated since 1777, it wasn’t until 1870 it was a federal holiday and 1941 before it became a paid federal holiday.
Independence Day is a great time for celebration for the US. Our founding fathers took a great risk separating us from England, and yet, without them we would not be the wonderful country we are today. To celebrate such a momentous occasion, we get together with family and friends for a BBQ, eat burgers and hotdogs, have swim parties, go to parades and outdoor performances, and, of course, pop fireworks from sunset till after midnight. It is estimated we go through over 14,000 fireworks on America’s birthday each year.
Every proud American enjoys the sacrifices and freedoms afforded us from so long ago. We appreciate our founding fathers taking that risk, we thank God for allowing us to grow into what we are, we pray for guidance to grow stronger and be better than we are today. This country was founded on freedoms and religious liberties no other country in the world is allowed and we can never afford to forget it. Every birthday is amazing and special and as America is turning 244, make sure to do something special. 2020 has been a crazy year, so be sure to grasp the familiar and constant things- like America’s birthday. Get more fireworks, invite more people over, hang more twinkle lights outside so you can stay up later. Have a great and safe celebration!
-Ariel Hall, Sterlington Teller
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.