From July 4, 1777 in Philadelphia, -and since-the date has been celebrated with guns-13 gun salutes, bells, prayers, music, bonfires, parades, with the public reading of the entire Declaration of Independence, military reviews, and fireworks and decorations of red, white and blue. Back in that day, even the ships would be decorated for the celebration.
(Official paid federal holiday become effective 1938.)
Why do we celebrate the 4th of July as we do?
July 2, 1776 Continental Congress “resolved that these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States.”
July 3, 1776 John Adams' famous letter of July 3, 1776, in which he wrote to his wife Abigail what his thoughts were about celebrating the Second of July…..Yes….. the Second of July, 1776-which is the date the Continental Congress Resolved by a vote, to separate from England.
July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress adopted text of the Declaration of Independence and had it printed for the first time---the two delegates who signed on this date: John Hancock & Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress
August 2, 1776 Delegates gathered and actually signed the Declaration; Some signed later in the year. January 18, 1777, Congress authenticated the names by the signature of John Hancock; The other delegates’ names were altogether-grouped by States
(The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.” John Adams