US Independence Day: what and why Americans celebrate July 4
US Independence Day is celebrated annually on July 4 in honor of the adoption of a historic document - the Declaration of US Independence from Great Britain, which became one of the central moments of the American Revolution (1775-1783) and actually expressed the desire of the local elite to break with the British crown in the person of Monarch George III, writes "New Time". We have collected some interesting and unexpected facts about this holiday.
Although officially the country's main holiday is celebrated on July 4, independence was proclaimed on another day. The Second Continental Congress, which included 13 major American colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia) actually voted for independence, July 2.
John Adams even wrote to his wife Abigail that future generations will celebrate July 2 as Independence Day: “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable in American history. I am inclined to believe that future generations will celebrate this day as a great annual celebration. This day should be celebrated as the day of liberation - with pomp and parade, with performances, games, sports, cannons, ringing bells, bonfires and decorations. It should be celebrated throughout the continent and throughout all times, ”writes Inosmi.
On July 4, 1776, the Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, but contrary to popular belief, the document was not signed on July 4 - the official signing ceremony took place on August 2, it was then that most signatories put their names on the document, and the rest signed throughout the summer of 1776.
The Declaration of Independence itself proclaimed the principle of popular sovereignty as the basis of state structure and rejected the monarchist theory of the divine origin of power that prevailed at that time. Opposing the British crown, the founding fathers (among them aristocrats of British descent) reaffirmed the right of the people to revolt and overthrow the despotic government, declaring inviolable inalienable rights for every person, namely, “the right to life, freedom and the right to happiness”.
On July 6, 1776, the text of the Declaration was first published in the newspaper. On July 8, the Declaration was first read out in the central square of Philadelphia. That day a traditional fair was held in the city. One of the results of this act was the appearance in the USA of a national shrine - the “Liberty Bells”; legend says that it was he who called the townspeople to the square, writes "Voice of America".
The colonial army, led by George Washington, was stationed near New York City and received independence a day later. And the news of Georgia reached the state only in August - there the holiday was celebrated on the 10th of this month. Given the then communication facilities in the capital of the former metropolis, London, they learned about the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by overseas colonies only on August 30.
For many signatories, the declaration has become fatal
Of the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence, five were captured by British soldiers. Then they were brought to a military tribunal and executed as traitors. Nine people died from injuries sustained during the Revolutionary War. Many lost wives, children, and property. Ironically, the two authors of the historical document - Jefferson and Adams - died on the same day, July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration in Congress.
New York did not vote for the Declaration
When the Continental Congress declared independence from the UK, the official vote was: 12 - for, 0 - against. But where was the 13th colony? New York delegates abstained during the initial vote on July 2.
In July 1776, the population of 13 colonies was approximately 2,5 million people. Today, the US population is estimated at 328 million. 31 United States cities have the word liberty in their name.
11 cities and towns contain in their name the word "independence" (independence). One locality in the country with a population of only 209 is called Patriot, and it is located in Indiana.
Independence was proclaimed long before the Declaration of 1776
Independence began with the states themselves and at first did not concern Congress. The very first declaration of independence was signed on October 4, 1774 (21 months before the Continental Congress declared independence) in the city of Worcester (Massachusetts). Within 21 months, a total of 90 counties and cities declared their independence. When Virginia followed suit in May 1776, its authorities sent Richard Henry Lee to the Continental Congress asking them to put forward an independence resolution to vote, thus uniting all the colonies (future states) against the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.
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The American army fought for independence under a different flag
American troops did not fight under the American flag during the revolution. On July 4, star-striped flags were fluttering everywhere, but the soldiers of the American Revolution were not brandishing such a banner. The founders did not consider the flag as something important, and its appearance differed in the number of stripes and the arrangement of stars. A single flag was adopted so that warships could be easily recognized when they arrive at foreign ports. But the US flag was considered so insignificant that in 1794, when someone asked Congress to add two stars to the flag (symbolizing Vermont and Kentucky), the House found this proposal too trivial. One lawmaker even stated that it was "a trifling matter not worthy of the attention of Congress, which is busy with issues of greater importance." The Continental Army fought under the flags, but these flags were all different, depending on the regiment.
Now the United States has a flag, which is a historical echo of those events. It depicts 50 stars, seven red stripes and six white, which symbolizes the first 13 states that signed the Declaration.
US Independence Brought Not by Democrats, but Republicans
The founding fathers were not radicals: I would like to think that the ideas of freedom and law were new and progressive. But the truth is that the founding fathers were not radically new thinkers - all their ideas and philosophies are rooted deep in history. The ideas of human rights, freedom and social contracts can be traced back to the Middle Ages - until 1215, when the Magna Carta was created. Jefferson himself explained that the declaration was not intended to express something new.
People often associate democracy with freedom. We often hear this word in the speech of politicians, neighbors, and sometimes even teachers. But the USA is not a democracy. States are a republic. The founding fathers paid special attention to this issue. They argued that democracy is too dangerous for the country, as it will inevitably lead to the oppression of the minority by the majority. Elbridge Jerry said that all evil is from democracy. The founders were very cautious about the government, regardless of where it came from, and limited it as much as possible - that’s why the US has such a unique system of checks and balances.
The Founding Fathers were for division, not unity
The founders believed that the states are not at all indivisible, but just the opposite. Upon ratification of the US Constitution, some states, including Virginia, declared their right to withdraw from the union as an additional precaution. The founders took state rights very seriously and believed that any of them could secede if they considered the federal government to oppress them.
Different traditions of celebration
Independence Day tradition includes processions, fireworks and family outings. There are certain regional features. So, on July 4, in the city of Seward (Alaska), a hiking trip to the top of Mount Marathon; in Lititz, PA, a candle festival, and in Tecums, Nebraska, several hundred flags are hung on the courthouse in honor of every local native who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
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And, of course, fireworks. Where without them. This tradition has a long history. Congress authorized the use of pyrotechnics during the celebration of Independence Day in 1777 in Philadelphia. Since then, these decorative lights - an integral part of the holiday, writes "Glavcom".
Among the traditions that gave rise to the triumph in Philadelphia in 1777, the celebration of the colors of the flag, the parade, as well as fireworks. There also a tradition of proclaiming toasts - one for each state.
Modern Americans often call the holiday simply "Fourth of July." Educational institutions, state and financial institutions do not work on this day, and city transport runs according to a special schedule. At the same time, international transfers do not work on this day around the world.
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