FACT: July 4, 1776 wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence from Great Britain (they did that on July 2, 1776)
- It wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either (that had happened back in April 1775)
- It wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence (that was in June 1776)
So what did happen on July 4, 1776?
- The Continental Congress approved the actual final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776
- The fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August 1776 is now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
How did the Fourth of July become a national holiday?
- For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration was written it was not really celebrated as our independence was so new and there was a lot more happening in the colonies
- By the 1790s, there was a lot of conflict and the Declaration was very controversial
- One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies
- By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. But that would soon change.
- After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to unravel
- Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top (he deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may even have helped to incluence the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated)
- Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday which was a part of a larger bill that also officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas.
- Again in 1939 there was another bill about national holidays, which again included July 4 as Independence Day!
So there you have it…..our celebration around the nation of July 4th and may we all have a safe and blessed holiday!!