Each year on July 4th, the United States celebrates Independence Day. This federal holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
For nearly 250 years, the country has been celebrating a day in history that inspires us still today.
- At noon, a “Salute to the Union” is fired, each July 4th, by any capable military base. This is a salute of one gun for each state in the United States.
- In 2009, New York City hosted the largest fireworks display in the country.
- Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States.
- July 4, 1777 – The First Anniversary – Bristol, Rhode Island, fired thirteen gunshots in salute: once in the morning and once again at evening. Philadelphia hosted an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decorated with red, white, and blue bunting.
- July 4, 1778 – General George Washington gave his soldiers a double ration of rum and an artillery salute. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin hosted a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
- July 4, 1779 – Since the holiday fell on a Sunday, celebrations were held on Monday, July 5th.
- July 4, 1781 – The Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4th as a state celebration.
- July 4, 1783 – Moravians in Salem, North Carolina celebrated with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. The work was titled “The Psalm of Joy.”
- July 4, 1791 – The first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred.
- July 4, 1820 – Eastport Main held the first Fourth of July celebration, and it remains the largest in the state.
- July 4, 1870 – The United States Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
- July 4, 1938 – The United States Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.
- 2.5 million is the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776.
- 327 million is the nation’s estimated population on July 1, 2018.
- The Second Continental Congress actually voted to declare independence from Britain on July 2 — not July 4. It took two days to have the official document prepared, hence the big “July 4, 1776” at the top of the Declaration.
- John Hancock was the only man to actually sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
- John Adams was so excited about the revolutionary events of July 2, 1776, that the very next day he wrote his wife Abigail that their “Day of Deliverance” from Britain “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Miffed by the switch to July 4, Adams would reportedly turn down Fourth of July party invitations.
- Three U.S. Presidents Have Died on July 4. Incredibly, both Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Founding Father John Adams died on the very same day: July 4, 1826. Even more insane, that year was the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
- In 1831, just five years later, James Monroe became the third U.S. president to die on the Fourth of July. A mourning nation saw the hand of God in the timing of the deaths.
- Although he didn’t expire on the Fourth of July itself, President Zachary Taylor died on July 9, 1850, after contracting cholera from eating tainted fruit during Independence Day celebrations.
- Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. president who was born on the Fourth of July. Born on July 4, 1872,