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Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence
from Wikipedia
In the United States, Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday
commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776, declaring independence
from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades,
barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and ceremonies, and various
other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.
Independence Day is the national day of the United States.
2 July or 4 July?
The Resolution of Independence (also called the Lee Resolution) was an act of the Second Continental
Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire. First proposed on 7 June 1776 ,
the resolution was finally approved on 2 July 1776. The text of the document formally announcing this action,
the United States Declaration of Independence, was approved on July 4.
After voting for independence on 2 July, Congress turned its attention to the declaration. Over several days of
debate, Congress made a number of alterations to the text, including adding the wording of the Resolution of
Independence to the conclusion. The text of the declaration was approved by Congress on July 4 and sent off to
be printed.
Future president John Adams wrote his wife Abigail on 3 July:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to
God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns,
bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time
forward forever more.”
Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated Independence Day on 4 July,
the date the much-publicized Declaration of Independence was approved, rather than on 2 July, the date the
resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.
The Declaration of Independence
The United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on 4 July
1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now
independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the
Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on 2 July to declare independence from Great
Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.
Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, the text of the Declaration was initially ignored
after the American Revolution. Its stature grew over the years, particularly the second sentence, a sweeping
statement of human rights:
“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.”
This sentence has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" and "the most potent
and consequential words in American history". The passage has often been used to promote the rights of
marginalized groups, and came to represent for many people a moral standard for which the United States
should strive.
One of the most enduring myths about Independence Day is that Congress signed the Declaration of
Independence on 4 July 1776. Most delegates actually signed the Declaration on 2 August 1776. In a
remarkable series of coincidences, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two founding fathers of the United
States and the only two men who signed the Declaration of Independence to become president, died on the same
day: 4 July 1826, which was the United States' 50th anniversary. Adams' last words have been reported as
"Thomas Jefferson survives". Adams was unaware that Jefferson had died a few hours earlier on the very same
day.
Celebration
Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events,
Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all nonessential federal institutions (like the postal service and federal courts) are closed on that day. Many politicians
make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and
people.
Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of
the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons,
and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades often are in
the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.