Independence Day!

The Declaration of Independence

247 years ago, July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence, was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America.  

The Lee Resolution, proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, declared the United States independent from Great Britain's rule and was approved July 2, 1776. Afterward, Congress focused on a statement explaining the decision for independence, the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was drafted by the Committee of Five, which included:  John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson.  Thomas Jefferson was the principal author and consulted with the other members of the committee heavily.

Originally, some believed July 2nd would have been known as our nation's Independence Day, as shown in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail:

"The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

When did July 4th become a federal holiday? In 1870, Congress made July 4th an unpaid national holiday for federal workers and it wasn't turned into a paid holiday until 1938.

Learn more about how our country declared its independence and the history of those involved by checking out this reading list:

Happy 4th of July!

View Full List