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History of 4th July
Independence Day is the national holiday
of the United States of America commemorating the signing of the Declaration of
Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time of the signing the US
consisted of 13 colonies under the rule of England's King George
III. Leading up to the signing, there had been growing unrest in the
colonies surrounding the taxes that colonists were required to pay
to England. The major objection was "Taxation without
Representation" -- the colonists had no say in the decisions of
English Parliament. Rather than negotiating, King George sent extra
troops to the colonies to help control any rebellion that might be
The following timeline will give you a crash course in the
history that lead to the signing of the Declaration of Independence
and America's break from British rule.
1774 - The 13 colonies send delegates to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to form the First
Continental Congress. While unrest was brewing, the colonies were
far from ready to declare war.
April 1775 -- King George's troops advance on Concord, Massachusetts, prompting Paul Revere's midnight
ride that sounded the alarm "The British are coming, the British are
coming." The subsequent battle of Concord, famous for being the
"shot heard round the world," would mark the unofficial beginning of
the American Revolution.
May 1776 -- After nearly a year of trying to work our their differences with England, the colonies again send
delegates to the Second Continental Congress.
June 1776 -- Admitting that their efforts were hopeless, a committee was formed to compose
the formal Declaration of Iindependence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson,
the committee also included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip
Livingston and Roger Sherman.
June 28, 1776 -- Jefferson presents the first draft of the declaration to congress.
July 4, 1776 -- After various changes to Jefferson's original draft, a vote was
taken late in the afternoon of July 4th. Of the 13 colonies, 9 voted
in favor of the Declaration; 2, Pennsylvania and South Carolina
voted No; Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John
Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, was the first to
sign the Declaration of Independence. It is said that he signed his name "with a great flourish" so "King George can read that without
July 6, 1776 -- The Pennsylvania Evening Post is the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence.
July 8, 1776 -- The first public reading of the declaration takes place in
Philadelphia's Independence Square. The bell in Independence Hall,
then known as the "Province Bell" would later be renamed the
"Liberty Bell" after its inscription - "Proclaim Liberty Throughout
All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof."
August 1776 - The task begun on July 4, the signing of the Declaration of
Independence, was not actually completed until August. Nonetheless,
the 4th of July has been accepted as the official anniversary of
United States independence from Britain.
July 4, 1777 -- The first Independence Day celebration takes place. It's interesting to
speculate what those first 4th festivities were like. By the early
1800s the traditions of parades, picnics, and fireworks were firmly
established as part of American Independence Day culture.