Calendar Days: Independence Day - 4th of July History

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
This is a national American holiday that will forever commemorate a defining moment in the nation's history. It celebrates the adoption of the country's formal declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776. A landmark document, it decreed that the thirteen colonies had become independent states, and were no longer part of the British Empire. Today, July 4th celebrations take the form of fireworks, colorful displays of patriotism, BBQ's and speeches. Join as we learn more about Independence Day.
Calendar Days: Independence Day - 4th of July History

It takes place on the fourth of July and celebrates America’s freedom. Welcome to and today we’ll be learning more about Independence Day.

Independence Day

It is a national American holiday celebrating the adoption of the formal declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776. This landmark document decreed that the thirteen colonies had become independent states, and were no longer part of the British Empire.


The fourth of July will forever remain a defining moment in American history. That day in 1776 came as the result of Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed its creation, before John Adams advanced the idea of a manuscript, and a committee led by its chief author Thomas Jefferson composed the written draft.

Edited, the final version was produced by the Continental Congress before voting upon and passing it in a closed session on July 2nd. The bill was officially written into law on July 4th, after Congress approved its final wording.

National Importance

The final declaration of Independence arrived a year after the onset of war, announcing the intention to form the United States, a self-governing entity independent from Great Britain. The legislation justified American independence by listing colonial grievances against King George III, while asserting a set of natural and legal rights. Namely, that all men are created equal and guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Initially, the document merely served a purpose. In the years that followed it become recognized by every citizen and became the corner stone of American society.

The Fourth of July

In 1777, exactly one year after the bill passed, thirteen gunshots were fired in Bristol, Rhode Island in both the morning and in the evening to salute the first anniversary of the independence of the thirteen colonies.

Philadelphia’s early celebrations laid the groundwork for how we recognize the holiday today: complete with fireworks, speeches, music, parades and displays of red, white and blue bunting.

By 1781 Massachusetts General Court became the first to state legislature to recognize the date as an official day of celebration. The event formally took the name “Independence Day” in 1791, and it went from unpaid federal holiday in 1870 to a paid one in 1938.

Present Day Traditions

Independence Day has evolved to become a prominent summertime event marked by shows of patriotism, events that take place outdoors, and politicians continue to appear in public to pay tribute to the nation’s heritage.

There are parades in the morning, firework displays at night and the national anthem and an array of patriotic songs and shows take center stage. The first week of July has also become the busiest time of the year for travel as Americans extend the long weekend for their vacation trips.

Old traditions continue on as well, for example, at military bases, a 50-gun salute is fired to commemorate the independence of each of the fifty states.

If you’re interested in learning more about important moments in American history, be sure to tune in to