Print this page
Friday, 29 June 2018 11:17

History of The Fourth of July

Written by Noreen Moross, Director of Production Services


DeclarationofIndependence Known as Independence Day, the Fourth of July is an annual holiday that celebrates America’s independence from Great Britain. Historically, July 4, 1776 was when The Continental Congress officially adopted The Declaration of Independence and thus a new nation was born, where all men are created equal and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Interesting facts about the Fourth of July


• On July 4, 1777, Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration. 

• On the first Fourth of July there were only 2.5 million American Citizens, today there are more than 326 million.

• In 1778 & 1781, during wartime, George Washington gave all his soldiers double rations of rum in celebration.

• Thomas Jefferson and James Adams both died on July 4, 1826 and James Monroe on July 4, 1831.

• Massachusetts recognized the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3, 1781, making it the first state to do so.

• In 1870 Congress made July 4th a federal holiday and in 1941 it was expanded as a paid holiday for all federal employees.

July4Flag• The American flag is the holiday’s symbol.

• Americans consume around 155 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July each year. They also spend $92 million on chips, $167.5 million on watermelon, and $341.4 million on beer.

• The oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.


However you celebrate the Fourth of July this year, may it be a celebration of family, fun, fireworks and remembrance. Let us never lose sight of the promise of the Declaration of Independence. Being an American is one of the greatest gifts that has been given to each and every one of us, let us never forget how hard our forefathers fought to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. Below is Miller Williams’ poem titled Of History and Hope written for President Clinton’s second inauguration.  For me it captures the sentiment of us as a nation, always hopeful.


Of History and Hope


We have memorized America,

how it was born and who we have been and where.

In ceremonies and silence we say the words,

telling the stories, singing the old songs.

We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.

The great and all the anonymous dead are there.

We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.

The rich taste of it is on our tongues.

But where are we going to be, and why, and who?

The disenfranchised dead want to know.

We mean to be the people we meant to be,

to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how

except in the minds of those who will call it Now?

The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?

With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—

and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together

cannot become one people falling apart.

Who dreamed for every child an even chance

cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.

Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head

cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.

Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child

cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.

We know what we have done and what we have said,

and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,

believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—

just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set

on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—

but looking through their eyes, we can see

what our long gift to them may come to be.

If we can truly remember, they will not forget.


Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope” from Some Jazz A While: Collected Poems. Copyright © 1999 

Read 7831 times Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2018 11:26