Origin and History
On 4 July 1776, 13 colonies announced their separation from Great Britain by adopting the Declaration of Independence.
The Second Continental Congress (comprising the group of 13 colonies) declared the American colonies free and independent, with John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, putting his stylish signature on the Declaration.
The Declaration of Independence, which asserts "all Men are created equal," was drafted by a committee comprising Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R Livingston.
John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, described people in Philadelphia spontaneously celebrating the first anniversary of American independence.
However, the country got its actual independence only on 3 September, 1783 when Great Britain formally abandoned all claims to the United States and signed the Treaty of Paris.
Independence Day celebrations became common only after the War of 1812.
On June 28, 1870, Congress passed a law making 4 July a federal holiday. People from far and near congregated to celebrate the day.
It was only in the 1870s, almost a century after the first Declaration of Independence, that Fourth of July became the most important secular holiday on the country's calendar.
Interesting Facts About Independence Day
1. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote most of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in June 1776, was regarded as one of the most eloquent writers of his time. Later, the Continental Congress made 86 changes to the original draft and delivered it to Great Britain in November 1776.
2. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, died exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration - on 4 July, 1826. In a strange coincidence, John Adams, another founding father too died on the same day as Jefferson.
3. The Fourth of July is the most popular holiday for grilling and barbecuing, while Memorial Day is the second most popular holiday in the US. Americans consume around 155 million hot dogs on this day alone.
4. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association's estimation, more than 14,000 firework displays illuminate the skies of the country on 4 July.
5. The firework industry earns about 75% of its revenue on this day and spends almost 11 months a year planning the holiday sale.