The Roundup -

By Tie Shank 

The Story of the Fourth of July

 

Photo of fireworks over the Statue of Liberty, courtesy of A Celebration of Women.

How much do you know about the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation?

Every year we celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July and we think of July 4, 1776 as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. However, July 4, 1776 wasn't the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare Independence Day. This was done on July 2, 1776 and it was also not the day we started the American Revolution. According to the ConstitutionFacts.com website, the American Revolution started in April of 1775.

Thomas Jefferson actually wrote the first draft to the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. It was delivered to Great Britain in November of 1776 and signed on August 02, 1776.

What really happened on July 4, 1776? Continental Congress approved the final edit of the Declaration of Independence on this date. In contrast, September 17th is celebrated as Constitution Day, the anniversary of the date the Constitution was signed, not the date it was approved. If we were to follow this same approach for the Declaration of Independence, we'd be celebrating Independence Day on August 2nd instead of July 4th.

According to History.com, fireworks were first used to celebrate July 4th on July 8th, 1776. Some of the fireworks used may have been used mockingly, because in England fireworks were used as a birthday celebration for the kings and queens. Firing the fireworks to celebrate the separation of the colonies from England was to some the celebration of the "death" of the king's power over them.

Fourth of July celebrations became more popular as each year passed. It was declared a national holiday almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written. Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever celebration in Philadelphia included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute and fireworks, but congress didn't make it official until 1870, when it was part of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level.

Fireworks did not become staples of July 4th celebrations until after 1816, when Americans began producing their own pyrotechnics. Approximately 200 years later, Americans are spending millions of dollars each year on fireworks. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) reports that firework spending has exploded in the last decade, doubling from the $425 million spent in 1998 to $967 million spent in 2011.

Fun Fact About the Fourth of July. It is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year, with reports of Americans consuming about 155 million hot dogs on this day alone.

 

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