Tomorrow is when this country celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence by representatives of the Continental Congress.
Originally, people were not planning to separate completely but events caused several representatives to come up with reasons to separate and another created the resolution to declare independence and Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration of Independence.
The document was presented to the rest of the delegates and voted on over July 2, 1776. However, the Continental Congress did not actually accept the document until July 4. John Hancock was the only one to sign it on that day, it took till August 2 to get all 56 delegates to sign it but many people including Thomas Jefferson felt Independence should be celebrated on July 2, consequently, he refused any invitation that had July 4th on it.
Prior to this document, colonists celebrated the king's birthday with bell ringing, speeches, bon fires, and processions but after the Declaration of Independence was passed, people began holding mock funerals for the king to show the end of his rule and celebrate Liberty. By 1777, colonists were celebrating Independence via concerts, parades, bon fires, firing cannons, and the reading of the Declaration of Independence while fighting a war against Great Britain. In fact, Philadelphia is said to be the first colony in 1777 to officially celebrate Independence Day by arranging to have a 13 gun salute done from a ship, the 13 representing the colonies. Furthermore, the Sons of Liberty set off fire works at the Boston Commons.
In 1781, just a few months before America won the Battle at Yorktown, the colony of Massachusetts became the first to declare July 4th as an official holiday. Colonists continued celebrating the date but it gained even more popularity after America faced off against Great Britain during the War of 1812 which we won. Interesting thing is that both Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826 on the 50th celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It did not actually become a federal holiday until 1870 when congress passed the appropriate law but it was not a paid holiday until 1941.
Now for some facts about the Declaration of Independence and July 4th.
1. The Declaration of Independence is considered a sacred document but it wasn't always treated well. It barely survived when the British burned Washington D.C. in 1814 and in 1941, the document was moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky under the protection of the United States Secret Service. Then in 1952, it was placed in a bullet proof container so it can be looked at by people during the day and at night it is lowered into a special concrete and steel reinforced bunker for it's protection.
2. The original Declaration of Independence inspired other counties to write their own such as Venezuela in 1811 which echos many of Jefferson's thoughts. The phrase "All men are created equal" appeared in a document written by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in 1833 and Women used other parts of the Declaration in the document they wrote in 1848 in Seneca Falls.
3. Both the British including philosopher Jeremy Bentham and American Frederick Douglas felt that the declaration was filled with hypocrisy and illogic and were unafraid to say so.
4. Citizens who lived in the Bowling Green section of Manhattan tore down a statue of the king and melted it to make ammunition.
5. When congress passed the law in 1870, it was only for Washington D.C. and it took several years for it to cover all Federal employees.
6. Bristol, Rhode Island is recognized as having the longest running 4th of July celebration. They held the first one in 1785, just two years after the end of the revolutionary war and this year they will celebrate the 235th one.
7. There are over 15,000 fireworks celebrations held across the country. Small celebrations can cost between $8,000 and $15,000 while large celebration can cost millions of dollars to put on.
8. American eat around 150 million hot dogs on July 4th alone. It is a popular food served at backyard barbecues. In addition, they spend about $73 per person or over $6.7 billion dollars on food etc but it does not include alcohol. Americans spend about one billion dollars on beer and another $560 million on wine for the day.
Today, it is normally celebrated with parades, fire works displays, barbecues, neighborhood gatherings but this year it is going to be quite different. I know the all the towns in the area have cancelled all parades to prevent the additional spread of COVID-19 but we normally do not have fireworks because it does not get dark enough in this part of Alaska. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great weekend.