The Declaration of Independence was started on July 2nd as a letter to King George to explain why the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. The Continental Congress approved the final wording on July 4th.
Only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 – John Hancock and Charles Thompson. At 27, Thomas Lynch, Jr., was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence; Ben Franklin, age 70, was the oldest signer.
Thomas Jefferson was the author of the majority of the document. He changed the wording of the Declaration of Independence from “the pursuit of property” to “the pursuit of happiness.
Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777 with a celebration in Philadelphia that included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute, and started the tradition of Americans gathering to watch as the sky illuminated to celebrate the new nation.
Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped – although not actually rung – 13 times in honor of the original 13 American colonies.
Almost 100 years after the Declaration of Independence, in 1870, July 4 was made an official holiday by Congress.
According to census.gov, 2.5 million people celebrated the first Independence Day, compared to 316.2 million people today.
Whether you’re planning a family picnic, going to a parade or proudly flying the flag, we would like to wish all of you a happy and safe 4th July celebration!