Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July
Fourth, is a federal holiday in the
United States commemorating the
adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The
Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies
regarded themselves as a new nation, the
United States of America, and
were no longer part of the British Empire. The Congress actually
voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2.
Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades,
barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family
reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to
various other public and private events celebrating the history,
government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is
National Day of the United States.
4 Celebration gallery
5 Notable celebrations
6 Other countries
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen
Colonies from Great Britain in 1776 actually occurred on July 2, when
Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of
independence that had been proposed in June by
Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee of
Virginia declaring the
United States independent from Great Britain
rule. After voting for independence, Congress turned its
attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining
this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with
Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised
the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it two days later on
July 4. A day earlier,
John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
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
Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans
celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the
much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2,
the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed
session of Congress.
Historians have long disputed whether members of Congress signed the
Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson,
John Adams, and
Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed
it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration
was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and
July 4 as is commonly believed.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers
of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the
United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th
anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the
Declaration of Independence, James Monroe, another Founding Father who
was elected as President, also died on July 4, 1831. He was the third
President who died on the anniversary of independence. Calvin
Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872; so far he is
the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day.
In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and
once again as evening fell, on
July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern
American would find familiar: an official dinner for the Continental
Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades,
troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships in port were decked with red,
white, and blue bunting.
In 1778, from his headquarters at Ross Hall, near New Brunswick, New
George Washington marked
July 4 with a double ration
of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute (feu de joie). Across
the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors
John Adams and
Benjamin Franklin held
a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate noisily in 1902
July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on
Monday, July 5.
In 1781, the
Massachusetts General Court
Massachusetts General Court became the first state
legislature to recognize
July 4 as a state celebration.
In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of
July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich
Peter. This work was titled The Psalm of Joy. This is recognized as
the first recorded celebration[clarification needed] and is still
celebrated there today.
In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for
In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal
An 1825 invitation to an Independence Day celebration
Fireworks on Independence Day in Goleta, California.
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 non-essential federal institutions (such as 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; many take advantage of the day off and, in some
years, a long weekend to gather with relatives or friends. Decorations
(e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red,
white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades are often
held in the morning, before family get-togethers, while fireworks
displays occur in the evening after dark at such places as parks,
fairgrounds, or town squares.
The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations,
marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their
centerpiece. In New England, towns competed to build towering
pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall
to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts,
with pyramids composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels. These
made the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the
19th and 20th centuries and is still practiced in some New England
Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs
such as the national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner", "God Bless
America", "America the Beautiful," "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," "This
Land Is Your Land," "Stars and Stripes Forever," and, regionally,
"Yankee Doodle" in northeastern states and "Dixie" in southern states.
Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War
Parade in Washington, D.C.
Firework shows are held in many states, and many fireworks are sold
for personal use or as an alternative to a public show. Safety
concerns have led some states to ban fireworks or limit the sizes and
types allowed. In addition, local and regional weather conditions may
dictate whether the sale or use of fireworks in an area will be
allowed. Some local or regional firework sales are limited or
prohibited because of dry weather or other specific concerns. On these
occasions the public may be prohibited from purchasing or discharging
fireworks, but professional displays (such as those at sports events)
may still take place, if certain safety precautions have been taken.
A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a
"salute to the union," is fired on Independence Day at noon by any
capable military base.
In 2009, New York City had the largest fireworks display in the
country, with more than 22 tons of pyrotechnics exploded. It
generally holds displays in the East River. Other major displays are
in Chicago on Lake Michigan; in San Diego over Mission Bay; in Boston
on the Charles River; in
St. Louis on the Mississippi River; in San
Francisco over the San Francisco Bay; and on the
National Mall in
During the annual Windsor-
Detroit International Freedom Festival,
Detroit, Michigan hosts one of the world's largest fireworks displays,
Detroit River, to celebrate Independence Day in conjunction
with Windsor, Ontario's celebration of Canada Day.
The first week of July is typically one of the busiest United States
travel periods of the year, as many people use what is often a
three-day holiday weekend for extended vacation trips.
In addition to a fireworks show, Miami,
Florida lights one of its
tallest buildings with the patriotic red, white and blue color scheme
on Independence Day
New York City's fireworks display, shown above over the East Village,
is sponsored by
Macy's and is the largest in the country
Patriotic trailer shown in theaters celebrating July 4, 1940
A festively decorated Independence day cake.
Lakes are a popular destination for Fourth of July celebrations in the
Originally entitled Yankee Doodle, this is one of several versions of
a scene painted by A. M. Willard that came to be known as The
Spirit of '76. Often imitated or parodied, it is a familiar symbol of
Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July
Parade in Bristol, Rhode
Island is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the
Seward, Nebraska has held a celebration on the same town
square. In 1979 Seward was designated "America's Official Fourth of
July City-Small Town USA" by resolution of Congress. Seward has also
been proclaimed "Nebraska's Official Fourth of July City" by Governor
James Exon in proclamation. Seward is a town of 6,000 but swells to
40,000+ during the
July 4 celebrations.
Since 1912, the Rebild Society, a Danish-American friendship
organization, has held a
July 4 weekend festival that serves as a
homecoming for Danish-Americans in the
Rebild Hills of Denmark.
Since 1959, the International Freedom Festival is jointly held in
Detroit, Michigan and
Windsor, Ontario during the last week of June
each year as a mutual celebration of Independence Day and Canada Day
(July 1). It culminates in a large fireworks display over the Detroit
Macy's fireworks display usually held over the East River
in New York City has been televised nationwide on
NBC since 1976. In
2009, the fireworks display was returned to the
Hudson River for the
first time since 2000 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry
Hudson's exploration of that river.
Boston Pops Orchestra
Boston Pops Orchestra has hosted a music and fireworks show over
Charles River Esplanade called the "Boston Pops Fireworks
Spectacular" annually since 1973. The event was broadcast
nationally from 1991 until 2002 on A&E, and since 2002 by
its Boston station WBZ-TV. WBZ/1030 and
WBZ-TV broadcast the entire
event locally, and from 2002 through 2012,
CBS broadcast the final
hour of the concert nationally in primetime. The national broadcast
was put on hiatus beginning in 2013, which Pops executive producer
David G. Mugar believed was the result of decreasing viewership caused
by NBC's encore presentation of the
Macy's fireworks. The
national broadcast will be revived for 2016, and expanded to two
On the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C., A Capitol Fourth, a free
concert broadcast live by PBS,
NPR and the American Forces Network,
precedes the fireworks and attracts over half a million people
The Philippines celebrates
July 4 as its Republic Day to commemorate
that day in 1946 when it ceased to be a
U.S. territory and the United
States officially recognized Philippine Independence.
July 4 was
intentionally chosen by the
United States because it corresponds to
its Independence Day, and this day was observed in the Philippines as
Independence Day until 1962. In 1964, the name of the
July 4 holiday
was changed to Republic Day. In Rwanda,
July 4 is an official holiday
known as Liberation Day, commemorating the end of the 1994 Rwandan
Genocide in which the U.S. government also played a role. Rebild
National Park in
Denmark is said to hold the largest July 4
celebrations outside of the United States.
United States portal
Constitution Day (United States)
To the Fourth of July
To the Fourth of July (1898), poem
"What to a slave is the 4th of July?" – 1852 Frederick Douglass
^ a b "What is Independence Day in USA?". Tech Notes. July 2, 2015.
Retrieved July 2, 2015.
^ "National Days of Countries". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
New Zealand. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
^ Central Intelligence Agency. "National Holiday". The World Factbook.
Retrieved June 28, 2009.
^ "National Holiday of Member States". United Nations. Retrieved June
^ Becker, p. 3.
^ Staff writer (July 1, 1917). "How Declaration of Independence was
Drafted" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2009. On the
following day, when the formal vote of Congress was taken, the
resolutions were approved by twelve Colonies–all except New York.
The original Colonies, therefore, became the
United States of America
on July 2, 1776.
^ "Letter from
John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, 'Had a
Declaration…'". Adams Family Papers. Massachusetts Historical
Society. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
^ Maier, Pauline (August 7, 1997). "Making Sense of the Fourth of
July". American Heritage. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
^ Burnett, Edward Cody (1941). The Continental Congress. New York:
W.W. Norton. pp. 191–96. ISBN 1104991853.
^ Warren, Charles (July 1945). "Fourth of July Myths". William and
Mary Quarterly. 3d. 2 (3): 238–272.
^ "Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July!". History News Network.
George Mason University. June 30, 2001. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
^ Becker, pp. 184–85.
^ For the minority scholarly argument that the Declaration was signed
on July 4, see Wilfred J. Ritz, "The Authentication of the Engrossed
Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776", Law and History Review
4, no. 1 (Spring 1986): 179–204, via JSTOR.
^ Heintze, "The First Celebrations".
^ a b c Heintze, "A Chronology of Notable Fourth of July Celebration
^  Archived July 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Heintze, "How the Fourth of July was Designated as an 'Official'
^ Heintze, "Federal Legislation Establishing the Fourth of July
^ "The Night Before the Fourth". The Atlantic. July 1, 2011. Retrieved
November 4, 2011.
^ "Origin of the 21-Gun Salute". U.S. Army Center of Military History.
October 3, 2003. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
^ a b Biggest fireworks show in U.S. lights up sky, USA Today, July
^ "AAA Chicago Projects Increase in Fourth of July Holiday Travelers",
PR Newswire, 23 June 2010
^ "History of Seward Nebraska 4th of July". Archived from the original
on July 13, 2011.
^ "History". Rebild Society.
Rebild National Park
Rebild National Park Society. Archived
from the original on July 1, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
Macy's 4th of July Fireworks". Federated Department Stores.
April 29, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2009.
^ "Welcome to Boston's 4th of July Celebration". Boston 4 Celebrations
Foundation. 2009. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008.
Retrieved July 4, 2009.
^ James H. Burnett III. Boston gets a nonreality show:
impossible views of 4th fireworks. Boston Globe, July 8, 2011
^ Powers, Martine; Moskowitz, Eric (June 15, 2013). "
July 4 fireworks
gala loses its national pop". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 16,
CBS on board again, Keith Lockhart is ready to take over prime
time". Boston Herald. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
^ Philippine Republic Day, Official Gazette (Philippines), retrieved
July 5, 2012
^ Lindsey Galloway (Jul 3, 2012). "Celebrate American independence in
Becker, Carl L. (1922). The Declaration of Independence: A Study in
the History of Political Ideas. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
ISBN 0-394-70060-0. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
Criblez, Adam (2013). Parading Patriotism: Independence Day
Celebrations in the Urban Midwest, 1826–1876. DeKalb, IL: Northern
Illinois University Press.
Heintze, James R. "Fourth of July Celebrations Database". American
Washington, D.C. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Independence Day (United
Fourth of July Is Independence Day USA.gov, July 4, 2014
U.S. Independence Day a Civic and Social Event U.S. State Department,
June 22, 2010
The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro by Frederick Douglass
Fourth of July Orations Collection at the Division of Special
Collections, Archives, and Rare Books, Ellis Library, University of
The Fourth of July, Back in the Day – slideshow by Life magazine
Fourth of July 2015
Fireworks in New York City on Youtube
Federal holidays in the United States
New Year's Day
Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Eighth (1828–1861)
Victory Day (1948–1975)
Flag Day (1950)
Election Day (1993)
Malcolm X Day
Malcolm X Day (1993–1994)
Democracy Day (2005, 2014)
Cesar Chavez Day
Cesar Chavez Day (2008)
Susan B. Anthony Day
Susan B. Anthony Day (2011)
Native American Day (2013)
Holidays, observances, and celebrations in the United States
New Year's Day
New Year's Day (federal)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (federal)
Confederate Heroes Day (TX)
Fred Korematsu Day
Fred Korematsu Day (CA, FL, HI, VA)
Idaho Human Rights Day (ID)
Inauguration Day (federal quadrennial, DC area)
Kansas Day (KS)
Lee–Jackson Day (formerly Lee–Jackson–King Day) (VA)
Robert E. Lee Day
Robert E. Lee Day (FL)
Memorial Day (36)
The Eighth (LA, former federal)
Super Bowl Sunday
American Heart Month
Black History Month
Washington's Birthday/Presidents' Day (federal)
Georgia Day (GA)
Lincoln's Birthday (CA, CT, IL, IN, MO, NJ, NY, WV)
National Girls and Women in Sports Day
National Freedom Day (36)
Primary Election Day (WI)
Ronald Reagan Day
Ronald Reagan Day (CA)
Rosa Parks Day
Rosa Parks Day (CA, MO)
Susan B. Anthony Day
Susan B. Anthony Day (CA, FL, NY, WI, WV, proposed federal)
Ash Wednesday (religious)
Mardi Gras (religious)
Irish-American Heritage Month
National Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Women's History Month
St. Patrick's Day (religious)
Spring break (week)
Casimir Pulaski Day
Casimir Pulaski Day (IL)
Cesar Chavez Day
Cesar Chavez Day (CA, CO, TX, proposed federal)
Evacuation Day (Suffolk County, MA)
Harriet Tubman Day
Harriet Tubman Day (NY)
Holi (NY, religious)
Mardi Gras (AL (in two counties), LA)
Maryland Day (MD)
National Poison Prevention Week
National Poison Prevention Week (week)
Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Day (HI)
Saint Joseph's Day
Saint Joseph's Day (religious)
Seward's Day (AK)
Texas Independence Day
Texas Independence Day (TX)
Town Meeting Day (VT)
Palm Sunday (religious)
Good Friday (CT, NC, PR, religious)
Easter Monday (religious)
Confederate History Month
April Fools' Day
Memorial Day (AL, MS)
Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust (week)
Emancipation Day (DC)
Jefferson's Birthday (AL)
Patriots' Day (MA, ME)
San Jacinto Day
San Jacinto Day (TX)
Walpurgis Night (religious)
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Jewish American Heritage Month
Memorial Day (federal)
Mother's Day (36)
Cinco de Mayo
Harvey Milk Day
Harvey Milk Day (CA)
Law Day (36)
Loyalty Day (36)
Malcolm X Day
Malcolm X Day (CA, IL, proposed federal)
Military Spouse Day
National Day of Prayer (36)
National Defense Transportation Day (36)
National Maritime Day (36)
Memorial Day (36)
Truman Day (MO)
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Pride Month
Father's Day (36)
Bunker Hill Day
Bunker Hill Day (Suffolk County, MA)
Carolina Day (SC)
Emancipation Day In Texas /
Flag Day (36, proposed federal)
Helen Keller Day
Helen Keller Day (PA)
Honor America Days (3 weeks)
Jefferson Davis Day
Jefferson Davis Day (AL, FL)
Kamehameha Day (HI)
Odunde Festival (Philadelphia, PA)
Senior Week (week)
Virginia Day (WV)
Independence Day (federal)
Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (HI, unofficial)
Parents' Day (36)
Pioneer Day (UT)
American Family Day (AZ)
Barack Obama Day
Barack Obama Day (IL)
Bennington Battle Day (VT)
Hawaii Admission Day / Statehood Day (HI)
Lyndon Baines Johnson Day
Lyndon Baines Johnson Day (TX)
National Aviation Day
National Aviation Day (36)
Service Reduction Day (MD)
Victory over Japan Day (RI, former federal)
Women's Equality Day
Women's Equality Day (36)
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Labor Day (federal)
California Admission Day
California Admission Day (CA)
Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day (36)
Constitution Day (36)
Constitution Week (week)
Defenders Day (MD)
Gold Star Mother's Day
Gold Star Mother's Day (36)
National Grandparents Day
National Grandparents Day (36)
National Payroll Week (week)
Native American Day (CA, TN, proposed federal)
Patriot Day (36)
Hispanic Heritage Month
Rosh Hashanah (religious)
Yom Kippur (religious)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Disability Employment Awareness Month
Filipino American History Month
LGBT History Month
Columbus Day (federal)
Alaska Day (AK)
Child Health Day (36)
General Pulaski Memorial Day
Indigenous Peoples' Day
Indigenous Peoples' Day (VT)
International Day of Non-Violence
Leif Erikson Day
Leif Erikson Day (36)
Missouri Day (MO)
National School Lunch Week
Native American Day (SD)
Nevada Day (NV)
White Cane Safety Day
White Cane Safety Day (36)
Native American Indian Heritage Month
Veterans Day (federal)
Day after Thanksgiving (24)
Election Day (CA, DE, HI, KY, MT, NJ, NY, OH, PR, WV, proposed
Family Day (NV)
Lā Kūʻokoʻa (HI, unofficial)
Native American Heritage Day (MD, WA)
Obama Day (Perry County, AL)
Christmas (religious, federal)
Alabama Day (AL)
Christmas Eve (KY, NC, SC)
Christmas (KY, NC, SC, TX)
Hanukkah (religious, week)
Indiana Day (IN)
Kwanzaa (religious, week)
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (36)
New Year's Eve
Pan American Aviation Day (36)
Rosa Parks Day
Rosa Parks Day (OH, OR)
Wright Brothers Day (36)
Varies (year round)
Eid al-Adha (religious)
Eid al-Fitr (religious)
Ramadan (religious, month)
(federal) = federal holidays, (state) = state holidays, (religious) =
religious holidays, (week) = weeklong holidays, (month) = monthlong
holidays, (36) = Title 36 Observances and Ceremonies
Bold indicates major holidays commonly celebrated in the United
States, which often represent the major celebrations of the month.
See also: Lists of holidays, Hallmark holidays, public holidays in the
United States, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the United States
Official holidays of the New York Stock Exchange
New Year's Day
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Day before Independence Day
Day after Thanksgiving