Independence Day History
The 4th of July is a celebration of the greatest event in American History. 4 July 1776 was the day that the Continental Congress, called together in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania promulgated the Declaration of Independence.
America had its roots in the settling of its East Coast (1600 - mid 1700's) by English speaking people from England, Scotland and Ireland. They brought with them belief in individual rights and representative government. They set up their own representative governments until such time as they might join the Parliament in London.
The government in England borrowed vast sums to prosecute a successful war in Europe and America which has come to be known as the "French and Indian War" (ended in 1763). The British Empire, decided to tax the colonies in America in order to alleviate this crushing burden. Naturally, they imposed taxes on the colonists without asking.
The colonists raised in a tradition of rights and freedoms refused to countenance the taxes. They objected. They campaigned, making up slogans like "No taxation without representation!" And when their pleas were ignored, they finally rebelled. The rebellion brought the colonies together and they convened a Congress in order to deal with matters that affected them all.
Several years of desultory fighting with the Crown finally brought matters to a head and the Congress decided that if America could not maintain its rights within the British Empire, it would do so outside of the Empire. Thus, a committee was formed and several men including Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson put together a document that expressed American ideals and that would justify the American Rebellion. The document said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
It is interesting to note that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence did not see themselves so much as revolutionaries as conservatives fighting to preserve their ancient rights as Englishmen. Independence was greeted with applause and approbation. The day of independence came to be commemorated every year. It is still celebrated with parades, bands, feasts and spectacular fireworks.
All of this merry making is meant to serve two purposes. First, it releases the joy inherent in American freedom. Second, it is also a reminder to all Americans of the sacrifice and blood spilled in order to attain and maintain human freedom.