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Why is Independence Day on July 4th?

Don’t let that old riddle fool you, every country has a 4th of July. But, only the United States celebrates its birthday (and independence) and July 4th. But what makes July 4th so special?

Fast Facts:

  • Independence Day, also known as July 4th and 4th of July commemorates the Declaration of Independence signing on July 4, 1776 
  • This is when the thirteen colonies, through the Continental Congress, declared their freedom from the rule of the British monarchy during the Revolutionary War
  • The actual separation from British rule actually occurred on July 2, when Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence
  • Two days later, five members of Congress drafted and presented to the entire Congress what became known as the Declaration of Independence  
  • The five members who wrote the document are known as the Committee of Five: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson 
  • Adams went on to become the second president of the United States in 1797. He strongly believed the proper date to celebrate independence was July 2, and would refuse invitations to 4th of July celebrations
  • Jefferson followed Adams’ term and became the third U.S. president in 1801
  • Both Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826- the 50th anniversary of the original document signing
  • When the Revolutionary War first broke out, complete independence from Great Britain was unpopular and considered radical
  • As the war waged on, independence grew on people as the war became more hostile, and people were introduced to new ideas about independence
  • Today the original Declaration of Independence can be seen in the National Archives Museum in Washington D.C. (If you ever have a chance to go to the National Archives and see the Declaration of Independence, do it -EM).
  • One of the earliest celebrations occurred in Bristol, Rhode Island where 13 gunshots were fired in salute, both in the morning  and the evening in 1777
  • Philadelphia also celebrated in 1777 with toasts, speeches, gun salutes, parades, and fireworks. The ships in its ports were also decorated in red, white, and blue. 
  • In 1938, Independence Day became a paid federal holiday, It was previously an unpaid holiday since 1870
  • Since the 4th of July falls on a Sunday this year, the federal holiday will be observed on Monday

 Many locations are playing it safe and have canceled their usual events or fireworks display due to COVID-19, including the City of Auburn. While Emerald Downs will have their normal, though adjusted, July 3rd event, the city will not hold its annual July 4th Festival. If you’re looking for somewhere to go or something to do, here is a list of places that are still celebrating. 

If you are having or going to a get-together at home, remember to only drive sober and please use any and all fireworks with an abundance of care.

As we celebrate 4th of July each year, it’s important to remember that freedom was not absolute until many years later. Slavery was still rampant in the U.S. and it wasn’t until 1865 that most slaves were finally freed under the Emancipation Proclamation. That’s why the U.S. celebrates two independence days each year- 4th of July and Junteenth.

From all of us at the AE, we hope you have a fantastic 4th of July this weekend. Eat those hot dogs, wear your sunscreen, and watch those fireworks.  Stay safe, crank that music, stay hydrated, and have a happy and safe Independence Day!

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