What is Independence Day and why do Americans celebrate it today?
THE Fourth of July – also known as Independence Day – is America’s biggest national holiday and a time for celebration.
Here is the history behind the most patriotic day in US calendar.
Independence Day is annually celebrated on July 4 and is often known as the ‘Fourth of July’[/caption]
What is Independence Day?
Independence Day celebrates America’s independence from the British Empire.
It is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
In 1775, the 13 colonies that made up America declared a war of independence against Britain.
The British had inhabited America since 1587 and exploited their resources such as tobacco and tea.
Tensions began to rise between the British and Americans as the British Government pushed for their own financial gain and continued to exploit American goods through taxation.
Founding Father and head of the Sons of Liberty organisation Samuel Adams, and his men, boarded three ships in Boston harbour and threw 342 chests of tea overboard.
This became known as The Boston Tea Party of 1773.
Other violent acts also arose from the tension over the taxation of tea and other products.
The Boston Tea Party was one of the main events that started the American Revolutionary War.
Fourth of July is a time to spend with family and friends, eating BBQs, watching firework displays and parades[/caption]
How do Americans celebrate Independence Day?
Fourth of July celebrations have taken various forms across the centuries.
In Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1777 there was a salute with 13 shotguns in the morning and evening of July 4.
And in 1778, then general of the revolutionary army, George Washington, doubled his troops rum ration for the festivities.
Nowadays, fireworks are one of the most common ways to celebrate Independence Day.
Displays are held in every major city and the White House also puts on its own show on the South Lawn.
Generally, Fourth of July is a time to spend with family and friends, eating BBQs, watching firework displays and parades while surrounded by a large quantity of red, white and blue, stars and stripes themed paraphernalia.
Why is Independence Day celebrated on the Fourth of July?
Celebrations take place on the fourth of July every year because it was on that date, in 1776, that Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.
Beforehand, a motion for independence was put forward by Richard Henry Lee and was voted upon on July 1, 1776, when 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favour.
The official Declaration of Independence was then drafted by future president Thomas Jefferson.
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Although it was adopted by congress on July 4 (hence the day of celebration), the bill was not actually signed until nearly a month later on August 2.
The New York colonies had to agree to the motion, which they did on July 9.
It then took a further two weeks to get the bill written up on parchment in a readable fashion.