In the United States, Independence Day commonly known as the Fourth of July is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Congress approved the wording of the Declaration on July 4 and then sent it to the printer. Whether John Hancock, as the elected President of the Second Continental Congress, or anyone else signed the document that day is unknown, because that document has been lost — presumably destroyed in the printing process. On August 2 in the following month, an engrossed document was signed by Hancock and other delegates.
Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, baseball games, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States, but is often also viewed as simply a summer festival, apart from its patriotic overtones.
In 1777, thirteen guns were fired, once at morning and again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting. In 1778, General George Washington marked Independence Day with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France. In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5. Observance In 1941, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday. The residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi, celebrated Independence Day for the first time since July 4, 1863, when the Siege of Vicksburg ended with a Union victory during the American Civil War.