History of the Fourth of July History of the Fourth of July
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History of the Fourth of July


History of the Fourth of July

Ever wondered why we celebrate the 4th of July?


The Fourth of July has always been a uniquely American holiday, and with good reason. July 4th, 1776 was the day that America declared it's independence from Great Britain. But what happened in the days leading up to July 4th? We thought it would be interesting to take a look at the history of this wonderful holiday.

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Conflict between the original thirteen colonies and England had been going on for nearly a year before July, 1776. On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee representing Virginia proposed a resolution to the session held in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) that famously stated:

"Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

This lead to the drafting of what we now know as the Declaration of Independence by John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia (who actually drafted the document). The Continental Congress reconvened  on July 1st, and on the following day the Lee Resolution was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, with New York not voting. Discussions and revisions of Jefferson's Declaration of Independence continued until late in the afternoon of July 4th until it was officially adopted that day, with nine colonies voting in favor, two (Pennsylvania and South Carolina) voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained.

Since that day, we have celebrated the forming of our Independent nation with fireworks, parades, decorations and more. 

Map of Boston Common, with July 4th festivities, 1870.

Here are some other fun facts about the 4th of July:

  • The first July 4th was was celebrated with thirteen gunshots that were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary with an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. The ships in port were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
  • Held since 1785, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States
  • Since 1818, a new flag design for the American flag has been adopted on July 4th each time a new star had to be added to represent any newly formed states. The flag on this date represented the first 20 states in the Union, and there was no official arrangement of the stars or standardization of the colors until 1934.
  • In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees, and in 1938 it was changed to a paid federal holiday.
  • A salute of one gun for each state in the United States, called a "salute to the union," is fired on Independence Day at noon by any capable military base.
  • The famous Macy's fireworks display in New York City has been televised nationwide on NBC since 1976.

We love celebrating the 4th of July, and as you can tell, we go all out for our decorations! 

One of our favorite things to do is combine figures with display blocks, boxes or even boards for a rich, visually stunning display. If figures aren't your thing, we also carry bunting, flags, advertising tins, and so much more. Check out our Patriotic Section for all of our patriotic decor.

We hope you found this historical information as interesting and entertaining as we did!


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