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It’s Independence Day!

By Shari Harris

On July 4, 1776, nine of the original thirteen colonies voted in favor of adopting the Declaration of Independence, two voted no, one was undecided and one abstained.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”
It was actually July 2, 1776, when 12 of the 13 colonies voted to declare their independence from Great Britain, but it would be another two days of discussions and revisions before the final Declaration was approved.
John Hancock, President of the Congress, was the first to sign the document, a month later, on August 2, and the remaining 55 delegates signed either that day or over the months that followed. The Declaration was delivered to Great Britain in November 1776. (Talk about snail mail!)
Despite John Adams’ belief that our nation’s independence should be celebrated on July 2, the date it was declared, Philadelphia set a precedent in 1777 when it commemorated the event of the approval of the Declaration, on July 4. Americans have celebrated Independence Day on July 4 since then. The fireworks so commonly used to mark the event today shine as brightly as those used in Philadelphia in 1777 to celebrate the first commemoration.
In 1870, July 4 was designated a national holiday, ensuring the summer day would remain a celebrated event for all Americans.


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