After America’s early Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776, the date became historic.
Largely considered to be one of the most important documents created and implemented by a government, the Declaration of Independence is housed in Washington, DC in the Rotunda at the National Archives. The document was signed on August 2, 1776. However the date that the document was adopted has long been considered America’s birthday.
America’s Declaration of Independence
The original document was written on animal skin and drafted by Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president. As reported by The United States National Archives and Records Administration, after the document was signed it was read out loud throughout United States’ colonies.
The historic document was written as a statement to the world proclaiming reasons that the colonies deserved and should be independent of England. Thomas Jefferson was one of five men charged with the responsibility of drafting the declaration. The other four men were Roger Sherman, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Livingston.
The Declaration of Independence begins: “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” However, it is the beginning line at the start of the second paragraph of the document that reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . . .” that many people familiar with the document remember most.
Early July 4th Celebrations in the United States of America
The first major July 4 celebration took place in 1777, one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Those early celebrations took place in Philadelphia and involved food, bell ringing, music, the firing of canons, fireworks and parades. According to the Fourth of July Celebrations Database, during the early years whenever July 4 was on Sunday, the holiday celebrations were often delayed one day in colonies throughout America and held on Monday, July 5. A few colonies celebrated the holiday on July 3.
Political leaders such as John Quincy Adams, George Washington and Alexander Martin gave speeches in cities around America within the first 20 years after the document’s official signing. Over time, the festivities held to commemorate the historic event grew and expanded. Today many events take place in historic Philadelphia at Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was originally signed and in other historic sites throughout the city like the Betsy Ross House and Constitution Hall. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first American newspaper to print a copy of the Declaration of Independence for its readers to examine.
- The United States National Archives and Records Administration. Declaration of Independence Facts.