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Independence Day: History and Facts About July 4

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Magazine, The Immigrant Experience

The United States of America celebrates its independence day on July 4 every year. However, it was July 2, 1776, when the Continental Congress, a governing body of the 13 North American colonies, voted in favor of declaring themselves independent of British rule. 

The story of how the US became an independent state from being a bunch of British colonies is an allegory of continuous struggle, hardship, triumph, perseverance, dedication, and freedom. It faced a lot and went through a lot until it emerged as an independent country on the world map. 

The War of Independence

In the 1760s and early 1770s, the North American colonists started harboring resentment against British imperial policies regarding taxation and frontier policy. When repeated protests failed to influence British policies, the colonial governments sent delegates to the Continental Congress to coordinate a colonial boycott of British goods.

After breaking out clashes between American colonists and British forces in Massachusetts, the Continental Congress worked with local groups, originally intended to enforce the boycott, to coordinate resistance against the British. The British officials throughout the colonies found their authority challenged increasingly by informal local governments. Benjamin Franklin, then a member of the Secret Committee of Correspondence, in late 1775, hinted to French agents and other European sympathizers that the colonies were steadily leaning towards seeking independence and convinced the French to supply aid to colonists.  

The members of the Continental Congress realized in late 1775 / early 1776 that reconciliation with Britain was unlikely, and independence was the only course of action available to them. By February 1776, colonial leaders were discussing the possibility of forming foreign alliances and began to draft the Model Treaty that would serve as a basis for the 1778 alliance with France. 

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee presented a motion to Congress for declaring independence. The majority of Congressmen favored the motion but they thought that some colonies were not quite ready. Subsequently, Congress formed a committee and assigned it the task of drafting the declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson, a member of this committee, with the help of four other members drafted the declaration of independence, which was adopted on July 4, 1776.

July 4 Facts

One of the members of the Committee of Five – which drafted and presented the Declaration of Independence to Congress on July 4 – John Adams, who also served as the 2nd US president, wrote to his wife that the 2nd Day of July 1776 would be the most memorable day in the history of America. Adams so firmly believed that July 2 was the correct day on which to celebrate American independence that he refused to appear at the 4th of July events as a matter of principle.

This indicates that the US got independence on July 2, not July 4, as the voting on independence was held on July 2, 1776, under the aegis of the Continental Congress, a governing body of the 13 colonies. After that, the Continental Congress asked to draft a document to explain the move to the public, which is known as the Declaration of Independence. 

July 4 federal holiday

July 4 was declared a federal holiday nearly 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence when Congress announced an unpaid holiday for federal employees on this day. It was officially declared a paid federal holiday in 1941. 

July 2, 4, or August 2? 

Just like John Adams, some believe that Independence Day could also fall on August 2 as the Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2, 1776. However, this day cannot be proclaimed as independence day because the draft of the Declaration of Independence bears the date of July 4. For the same reason, July 2 was not regarded as independence day even when the voting was held on this date. 

Highest beer & hot dog sales on July 4 

July 4 produces the highest sales out of beer each year. Behind this day, the next-highest beer sales are made on Labor Day. 

Similarly, Americans eat more than 150 million hot dogs on July 4. If these hot dogs are laid out horizontally, they would cover an area five times larger than the distance between Washington DC  to Los Angeles.

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