Historic US Moments: Independence Day

04 July 2017

Historic US Moments: Independence Day

Categories: Historic US Moments

The most famous moment in American history took place on July 4th 1776. We all celebrate it every year in a feast of fireworks, flags and barbecue sauce, but how much do you really know about Independence Day? If what you learned from school has blended in with what you think might have seen in the movies (HINT: It didn’t involve an alien invasion or the President flying a jet fighter), let us refresh your memory of why the 4th of July is just so important for all of us.

What Was It All About?

The main reason behind America’s desire of independence was a desire to break free from the rule of Great Britain. At the time, America had to follow the same laws as those set across the Atlantic on top of paying a whole load of taxes.

America was made up of 13 colonies at the time but had no representation in the British Parliament, so effectively had no say in its own affairs. Instead of putting up with this, starting in 1765, the Americans decided to fight back, leading to the American Revolution, which went on until 1783.

The early years of the Revolution saw protests taking place across the country, most famously the Boston Tea Party in 1773, where a consignment of tea was destroyed in the Boston harbor. These protests escalated to the point of war two years later, but at this stage, independence wasn’t actually what the Americans were fighting for; that only became the objective as relations between the colonists and their oppressors became ever more hostile.

Tea is thrown into the Boston Harbor

The serious talks about independence led to the Continental Congress debating the issue in Philadelphia on June 7th 1776 and the vote was passed on July 2nd, with the Declaration of Independence formally adopted two days later. That wasn’t the end of the American Revolutionary War, but was the birth of the America we know and love today, making it a day still worth celebrating over 200 years later.

Who Were The American Heroes?

You’ll know the names of at least a couple of the Committee Of Five, who were responsible for drafting the Declaration. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were key figures in the formation of our great country because of the roles they played as Founding Fathers. Adams and Jefferson also went on to serve as early Presidents of the United States. The other two on the Committee were Roger Sherman and Robert R Livingston, whose names may not figure as heavily in our history books but still more than deserve their reputation as great patriots.

Despite his fame, George Washington wasn’t actually part of the Committee Of Five. However, he was one of the Founding Fathers, the Commander-In-Chief of the Revolutionary Army during the War and went on to become the first American President in 1789. James Madison was the last of the Founding Fathers, and he went on to play a main role in drafting the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He also served as the fourth President.

To say that these men created our nation is no exaggeration.

Celebrating Independence Day

We all know how to celebrate the Fourth of July nowadays, and a lot of that comes from John Adams’s suggestion that independence should be:

“…solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

You might not know that he was actually talking about July 2nd, the date that the vote for independence had taken place, which he thought was the more significant date!

It isn’t even historically proven that the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Founding Fathers on July 4th, but that is the date that has been popularly used ever since the first anniversary in 1777. In 1778, George Washington treated his soldiers with a double ration of rum and by 1938, Congress had made it a paid federal holiday. Now it’s a highlight everyone’s year, defined by parties and patriotism, but we should never forget what we’re celebrating.

A small US flag leaning against a metal fence in front of a lake

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