Independence Day, in the U.S., an annual holiday commemorating the formal adoption by the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia. Although the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August, the Fourth of July holiday has been accepted as the official anniversary of United States independence and is celebrated in all states and territories of the U.S.
At the time of the signing the United States consisted of 13 colonies under the rule of England's King George III. There was a growing unrest in the colonies concerning the taxes that had to be paid to England. This was commonly refered to as "Taxation without Representation" as the colonists did not have any representation in the English Parliament and had no say in what went on. As the unrest grew in the colonies, King George sent extra troops to help control any rebellion. In 1774 the 13 colonies sent delegates to Philadelphia Pennsylvania to form the First Continental Congress. The delegates were unhappy with England, but were not yet ready to declare war.
In April 1775 as the King's troops advanced on Concord Massachusetts, the battle of Concord would mark the unofficial beginning of the colonies war for Independence.
June 1776 a committee was formed to compose a formal declaration of independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft which was presented to the congress on June 28. A vote was taken late in the afternoon of July 4th. Of the 13 colonies, 9 voted in favor of the Declaration, 2 - Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. To make it official John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence.
On July 8th the Declaration had it's first public reading in Philadelphia's Independence Square. Twice that day the Declaration was read to cheering crowds and pealing church bells. Even the bell in Independence Hall was rung. The "Province Bell" which would later be renamed "Liberty Bell" after it's inscription - "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof."
The holiday was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, at which time the Declaration of Independence was read aloud, city bells rang, and bands played.People celebrated with fireworks and with candles which they lit and placed in their windows.
The first Independence Day celebration took place the following year - July 4 1777. By the early 1800s the traditions of parades, picnics, and fireworks were established as the way to celebrate America's birthday. It was declared a legal holiday in 1941.
The Fourth of July is traditionally celebrated publicly with parades and pageants, patriotic speeches, and organized firing of guns and cannons and displays of fireworks. Early in the 20th century public concern for a safe holiday resulted in restrictions on general use of fireworks. Although fireworks have been banned in most places because of their danger, most towns and cities usually have large firework displays for all to see and enjoy. Family picnics and outings are a feature of private Fourth of July celebrations.Today, the most popular way to celebrate Independence day is to get together with family and friends, have a cook out and attend a fireworks display!
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