American Independence Facts
In May, 1776, after nearly a year of trying to resolve their differences with England, the colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Finally, in June, admitting that their efforts were hopeless, a committee was formed to compose the formal Declaration of Independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee also included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the declaration to Congress. America’s independence was actually approved and declared by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, but the official document itself – The Declaration of Independence – was dated and adopted two days later.
Only two men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776 — John Hancock and Charles Thompson, secretary of the Congress. It took an entire month to get all 56 delegates together to put their signature on the document. Thomas McKean was the last to sign in January of 1777.
Independence Day was first celebrated in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. The Liberty Bell sounded from the tower of Independence Hall on July 8, 1776, summoning citizens to gather for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.
On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, looking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. “Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war. Genuine independence was secured on September 3, 1783 with The Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain formally abandoned any claim to the United States.
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
~ George Washington
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society.” ~ James Madison
Fourth of July Trivia
Three of the first five presidents died on the Fourth of July. James Monroe (5th President) died in 1831. John Adams (2nd President) and Thomas Jefferson (3rd President) died on the same day in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the US Independence. James Madison (4th President), died on June 28 in 1836, missing Independence Day by just a few days.
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on the Fourth of July in 1872.
The Fourth of July become a legal federal holiday in 1941.
The stars on the original American flag were arranged in a circle to ensure that all colonies were equal. The design of the flag has been officially modified 26 times since it was created in 1777.
“My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, also known simply as “America” was written in 1831 to the same melody as “God Save the King”. That tune was adapted in various forms after the Revolution, slowly gained popularity, and was often used as an anthem until “The Star Spangled Banner” became the National Anthem.
The national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, is actually set to the tune of an old British drinking song called “To Anacreon in Heaven”. The lyrics come from the poem, “Defense of Fort McHenry” written in 1814 by a lawyer named Francis Scott Key. Congress declared it the national anthem on March 3rd, 1931.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” ~ Ronald Reagan
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God cannot retain it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.” ~ John F. Kennedy