Some of us forget about the Revolutionary War and why it was fought, and most assume that the first big July 4th Party was held on July 4th, 1776. But there was no party or celebration on that first July 4th in 1776. July 4th eventually came to be named a national holiday, but not until a year later in 1777.
Historically, the Continental Congress of the United States of America adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams predicted that July 2 would soon become a national holiday.
But, on July 2 the Declaration was still only a draft, signed by just two men: Secretary of Congress Charles Thompson and Congressional Leader John Hancock.
Although a revision was written by July 4, 1776, it was printed, and then the new version was sent to each of the US States and all military officers. Still having just two official signatures.
People generally ignored the Declaration of Independence as old news. The Declaration was initially disrespected and ignored, even by leaders of the country. John Adams thought it was frivolous and boring. In his words, he stated, “…dress and ornament rather than Body, Soul, or Substance.”
The Declaration was read aloud from the Philadelphia State House, but not until July 8. Later on the same date, the Declaration was also read aloud as a proclamation in Easton, PA, Trenton, NJ, and to some militiamen around those areas. On July 6 and 8, there were some instances of shouting for joy and some rifles fired, but not much of either.
No actual celebration occurred in America for her Independence that first year until after mid-July. The first celebration was like a small corner of the August Buckeye Lake Corn Fest in Ohio, rather than a national holiday. But there was no national celebration of any kind in 1776.
Even that next year in 1777, no government official had yet thought about celebrating or commemorating the Declaration of Independence – until July 3rd.
Rushing to save face, a celebration was thrown together for July 4, 1777 in Philadelphia, then the Nations capitol. Ships in the harbor were gallantly decorated in red, white and blue. 13-gun salutes were shot in honor the 13 Colonies.
Thus it was declared July 4 to be a national holiday in 1777.
But there were no fireworks.
At the time the resources to manufacture fireworks were not yet available, and fireworks would have had to been imported from England. During July 1777, US residents began to light celebratory bonfires, fired rifles, rang church bells, but scrapped was any symbol of England and the King that they could find. It wasn’t until 1816, that the US started domestic manufacturing of their own fireworks, so that they no longer had to buy them form England.
July 4th today is now an official and recognized American holiday. Today in Phoenix, Arizona and across the nation there are festivities, parades, celebrations, and of course fireworks. Being American is part of our Pagan roots, because it was Pagans who were running from persecution from England. So July 4th is an important Pagan holiday to share with all our fellow Americans.
Have a Happy July 4th everyone.