This day is a federal holiday which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Political speeches and ceremonies along with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, baseball games, class reunions and family reunions take place all across the country celebrating our independence.
- July 4, 1777 – The First Anniversary – Bristol, Rhode Island, fired thirteen gunshots in salute: once at 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 – The holiday fell on a Sunday so the celebrations were held on Monday, July 5.
- July 4, 1781 – The Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
- July 4, 1783 – Moravians in Salem, North Carolina held a celebration 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 – The first Fourth of July celebration in Eastport Maine was held 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.