Our Country’s humble beginnings:
When we think of July 4th we think of the birth of the United States of America, and the triumph that accompanied the Declaration of Independence. We think of the liberation of our people and the beginnings of our country as an independent nation. With all the celebrating that goes on nationwide, people often forget to reflect on what really happened on July Fourth. Most of us will come to the same conclusion: we have no idea!
Did the Continental Congress declare independence on the Fourth of July? Nope, that happened on July 2, 1776.
Did the American Revolution start on the Fourth of July? Nope, that happened in April 1775.
Did Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July? Nope, that happened in June 1776.
So what did happen on the Fourth of July? The answer…not much.
So, what did happen?
On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, after several days of drafting and editing. This date was then included on the handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence that was signed in August, as well as on the original copies that circulated the new nation. Naturally, people began to associate the Declaration of Independence with the Fourth of July.
Constitution Day celebrates the anniversary of the Constitution being signed, Independence Day merely celebrates the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence being approved. If we celebrated the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed, we’d celebrate Independence Day on August 2.
The birth of a national holiday.
The Declaration of Independence was not formally celebrated for the first 20 or so years after coming to fruition. In fact, by the time the 1790s rolled around, the Declaration had become a controversial issue in the new government. The Democratic-Republicans supported Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence but the Federalists felt that the Declaration contradicted their policies.
This all changed after the War of 1812 when the Federalist party broke down. Again, copies of the Declaration of Independence circulated, all with the date July 4, 1776 listed on top. The coincidental deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826 may have also factored into the Fourth of July becoming an important day.
Fourth of July celebrations became more and more common in the following years. In 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was written, Congress declared the Fourth of July to be a national holiday as part of legislation that officially recognized several national holidays, such as Christmas.
Today, Independence Day seems to be the perfect holiday. There’s sunshine, good food, and we get to be patriotic as we celebrate our country. So plan out your party menu, gather up the invitations, and figure out the best ways to show off your red, white, and blue pride.
Whether you’re throwing a barbecue or having a few friends over for some Fourth of July drinks, it’s easy to get your patriotic spirit in full swing.
Fireworks in the area:
Stamford: July 3 – 9:00PM at Cummings Park; rain date: July 5
Norwalk: July 3 – Dusk at Calf Pasture Beach; rain date: July 5
Rowayton: July 4 – 9:15 PM at Bayley Beach; rain date: July 5
Darien: July 5 – 9:00 PM at Darien High School; rain date: July 6
New Canaan: July 4 – 5:00 – 10:00 pm at Waveny Park; rain date: July 5
Rye (NY): July 4 – 9:30 pm at Playland Park; rain date: N/A
Greenwich: July 5 at dusk at Greenwich Point & Binney Park; rain date: July 6
Westport: July 3 – 9:00pm at Compo Beach; rain date: July 7