History of 4th of July

July 4, 2014

Being forced to pay taxes to England’s King George III with no representation in Parliament caused a growing dissatisfaction among the 13 colonies. On June 11, 1776, the colonies’ Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia formed a committee with the purpose of drafting a document that would finally severe their ties with the Great Britain. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence.

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After voting for the resolution of independence they then turned their attention to the declaration of independence.  The declaration of independence was prepared for the Committee of Five and it was approved on July 4, 1776. Since then July 4th has been celebrated as Independence Day and is commonly known as the Fourth of July. Contrary to popular belief the declaration of independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776, most historians have concluded that the declaration was signed on August 2, 1776.

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On July 4, 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, one at morning and then one at night in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated in almost the same manner, with thirteen gun salutes, official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, speeches, prayers, troop reviews and parades. The following year, Gen. George Washington celebrated July 4 with a double ration of rum. It was in 1791, when the name Independence Day was first recorded. In 1870, the US Congress declared that Independence Day will be an unpaid holiday this was changed into a paid federal holiday in 1938.

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The Fourth of July celebration has long been associated with political speeches and ceremonies,  fireworks, barbecues, parades, fairs, carnivals, picnics, concerts and if it happens to fall into a long weekend celebration it would turn into family reunions. Families would often have picnics and barbecues at parks or join in barbecues and picnics hosted by neighbors and friends. The Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem, God Bless America, My Country Tis of Thee, and This Land Is Your Land.

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