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Fun Facts about Independence Day

The History behind 4th of July Celebrations

With the 4th of July just around the corner, we thought we’d take a moment to share some interesting historical facts about the founding of our nation and how July 4th came to be the official “Independence Day” holiday.

Uncovering the significance of July 4th

First let’s start with what the 4th of July wasn’t:

  • It wasn’t the day the Continental Congress declared independence … that was July 2, 1776.
  • It wasn’t the start of the American Revolution … that was April 1775.
  • It wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the Declaration of Independence … that was June 1776.
  • It wasn’t the day Great Britain learned about America’s independence … that was on August 10, 1776.
  • It wasn’t the day the Declaration of Independence was signed … that was August 2, 1776. (And it’s even questionable if all members of the Continental Congress signed it on the same day.)

So why do we celebrate July 4th?

The History of Independence Day

Almost 2 years into the Revolutionary War, and amid growing hostility against Britain, colonists were becoming more in favor of independence, partly owed to a bestselling pamphlet in early 1776 by Thomas Paine, Common Sense.

On June 7 when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall), the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for independence. He stated, “…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.” With much debate, the Continental Congress delayed voting on Lee’s resolution and instead appointed a committee to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain. This committee included Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York.

Almost one month later, on July 1, delegates were back in Philadelphia, once again debating whether the 13 original colonies should declare their independence from Britain’s Parliament and King George III. Later that evening, they received news that British ships sailed into the New York Harbor, posing an immediate threat. The next day, on July 2, delegates almost unanimously voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively on July 9). The congress spent the next two days making revisions to the draft of the declaration, which had been written largely by Thomas Jefferson. Then on July 4, the Declaration of Independence, in its final form was adopted, “declaring that the thirteen American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire but now the United States of America,” says the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Because July 4, 1776 became the date that was included on the official handwritten Declaration of Independence that was later signed (and now on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.), when people think of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th is the date everyone remembers!

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” – John Adams (written to his wife, Abigail)

Other fun facts about the Declaration of Independence and July 4th

  • The Declaration of Independence has the words, “IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776,” at its top, because that is the day the approved version was signed in Philadelphia.
  • When the Declaration of Independence was approved, Congress requested John Dunlap, a local printer, to print about 200 copies of the “Dunlap Broadside” version (with John Hancock’s name at the bottom) that were distributed across the new nation. Today, 26 copies remain!
  • On July 8, 1776, Colonel John Nixon of Philadelphia read a printed Declaration of Independence to the public for the first time on what is now called Independence Square.
  • Most of the members of the Continental Congress signed a version of the Declaration on August 2, 1776, in Philadelphia. The names of the signers were released publicly in early 1777.
  • Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war.
  • The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4 of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. Ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.”
  • Patriotic celebrations became more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States once again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.

Did you know that Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 … the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

We're closed July 4th

Frisco Kid’s Dentistry will be closed Monday, July 4th as we celebrate with our families. We wish everyone a Happy Independence Day and we hope you all enjoy some extra time off to BBQ with friends, lounge by the pool, watch a parade, or enjoy a spectacular fireworks display to celebrate our nation’s freedom!

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