Editor's Note: Originally published July 4, 2013
Skirmishes between the colonial militiamen and British troops may have begun in April 1775, but it was in June of 1776, that representatives of the 13 colonies met to consider officially declaring their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later, on July 4th, its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence.
- Because the vote in favor of independence occurred on July 2nd, John Adams believed that was the correct day to celebrate. Legend has it that he would turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest of celebrating the “incorrect” day.
- Celebrating Independence Day didn’t truly become widespread until after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced off against Great Britain. The 4th of July became a federal holiday in 1870, but it wasn’t until 1941 that it became a paid holiday for federal employees.
- The British may have been our adversary long ago, but for the past century they have been a close ally.
- In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the United States was 2.5 million. Today, that number is 313.9 million.
Intrigued? The Library of Congress offers an extensive online collection of resources related to Independence Day:
Becky likes to read … A LOT. When she’s not reading, she likes to pretend that she can garden. Her thumb has no hint of green whatsoever but luckily her plants are forgiving. Her favorite books are The Shannara series by Terry Brooks