The History of the 4th of July
In 1776, on July 4, thirteen colonies first claimed independence from England. This historical event led to the formation of the United States of America. These days, Americans celebrate the 4th of July each year. This is now known as Independence Day. In that summer of 1776, when the 13 colonies convened in Philadelphia, the conflict between Great Britain and colonies was already a year old.
The colony representative had gathered earlier in the summer to work out the details of the declaration of independence from the British. In the Pennsylvania State House on June 7, Richard Henry Lee from Virginia presented a resolution that stated:
“Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
These words were the motivation for drafting the Declaration of Independence, although it was not followed upon immediately. The resolution consideration was postponed by a vote of 7 against 5 colonies, with New York abstaining. A Committee of Five was given permission to write a statement draft which was going to present the case for independence to the world. Committee members included Connecticut’s Roger Sherman, Massachusetts’ John Adams, Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin, New York’s Robert R Livingston, and Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had the task of the drafting the final document.
In 1776 on the 1st of July, the Continental Congress reconvened with the Independence resolution being adopted by twelve of the thirteen colonies, again with New York not voting. The Declaration of Independence discussions ended with a few minor changes. The declaration with these revisions was officially on July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was signed by John Hancock on that day.
The original copy of the Declaration of Independence is now housed in the Washington DC National Archives. July 4 became a national holiday to honor the day America declared its independence.