Independence Day, July 4 – How it All Started

The 4th of July is a big holiday here in the United States. These days our celebrations are often spent with family and friends. We host barbecues, light fireworks, and many of us enjoy the day off work since July 4th is a federally recognized holiday. Of course, this representation of the day is a far cry from where this holiday first began.

July 4th, also known as Independence Day, is the annual celebration to honor when the 13 original colonies first claimed their independence from England. This happened on July 4, 1776 and eventually this moment led to the formation of what we now call home–the United States of America. There had long been a conflict between England and the colonies in America. In fact, up until this point, England considered the colonies the property of the crown. Of course, the distant English ruler had little knowledge of what was happening in the colonies–and the colonists resented English rule.

A formal Declaration of Independence was drafted, though it didn’t immediately take hold like we think it did. As a matter of fact, on June 11, 1776, consideration for the Declaration was actually postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five. New York abstained from voting at the time. Despite this setback, a committee was created with the sole purpose of drafting a statement related to the case of independence for the 13 colonies. Some famous names included in this group were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson.

On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress convened and on the following day the resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies; once again, New York did not vote. Some changes of the document were made, but in whole the Declaration remained largely the same as originally drafted. The Declaration for Independence was formally adopted on July 4, 1776, and was designated a national holiday by the government.

Today, the original copy of the Declaration of Independence can be found in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., at the National Archives.