Hip Hip Hooray! Its Independence Day! Celebrate July 4th with us at the Adventures of ScubaJack and join the journey with our well-traveled virtual field trips. Holidays are more fun when History matters.
As you likely know, one of the most exciting days on the calendar is the Fourth
of July. You probably celebrate the Fourth of July by grilling some hot dogs or hamburgers, going to the pool, and watching some awesome fireworks in the sky. If you really think about it, the Fourth of July signals that we are in the thick of those hot, sunny summer months.
The Fourth of July isn’t just about hotdogs and fireworks, however. It is one of the most important days in American history. The Fourth of July (also called Independence Day) continues to symbolize America’s independence from England and the birth of one of the greatest nations on Earth. It is also a holiday that celebrates the Declaration of Independence, which is one of the most important documents in American history.
Because the Fourth of July is so important in American history, it is important to understand what it means and why we continue to celebrate the holiday. After understanding these reasons, you will be able to impress your friends and family when you’re at your July Fourth cookout.
Fun Facts About the Fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence
The Fourth of July is most known as a holiday that celebrates America’s independence. And yes, Independence Day is a day where we gather together and celebrate how great America is. However, Independence Day is actually a holiday that celebrates the Declaration of Independence.
If you haven’t yet heard of the Declaration of Independence, it is a famous American document that explained why the 13 American colonies were at war with England. It also laid out the reasons why the colonies wanted to free themselves from English rule and become an independent country. The Declaration was a big deal because it signaled that the 13 American colonies would do anything, including going to war, in order to become free people.
The Declaration of Independence was mainly drafted by Thomas Jefferson. You may have already heard of Jefferson. He was the third President of the United States. Before becoming President, however, he was chosen to write the Declaration. The one man who played a large part in assigning the Declaration to Jefferson was John Adams. Adams was actually the second President of the United States (following George Washington).
The Declaration has one of the most famous and important sentences in American history. It is the second sentence of the document. It says “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.”
This sentence may be confusing to read. Back in the 18th century, writers and speakers communicated much differently than we do today. This sentence played a large role in the creation of the American dream. Basically, it means that America would treat everyone equally and that God has given us certain rights that no one can take away. Those rights are life, freedom, and happiness. While America continues to live up to these ideals, that sentence is at the core of what makes America so great.
The Fourth of July is connected with the Declaration of Independence because that is the day when the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration. The Second Continental Congress was a collection of prominent individuals throughout the 13 colonies (including Jefferson, Adams, and Washington). It ratified the Declaration on July 4, 1776. The Declaration was mostly signed, however, on August 2, 1776. 56 people signed the Declaration of Independence.
If you were to look at a copy of the Declaration, you would see that the largest signature is from John Hancock. However, there are many other famous Americans who signed the Declaration. They include Jefferson, Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Sam Adams. Washington actually did not sign the Declaration. He was commanding soldiers, so he wasn’t able to attend the Second Continental Congress.
Thomas Jefferson was a key figure in creating the Declaration and spearheading America’s independence. Jefferson was a fascinating figure. In the year 1815, he sold his personal library of 6,700 volumes to Congress for $23,950. This was to replace books that were lost when the British army burned the White House during the War of 1812. Jefferson actually died on July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence’s adoption. He left his home Monticello to the U.S. government, as it would be used as a school for the orphans of Navy officers. His tombstone says “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, 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.”
Celebrating the Fourth of July
In today’s world, Independence Day is mostly viewed as a way to relax, celebrate summer, and watch some fireworks. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I encourage you to think about the Declaration and America’s independence on this day.
If you study history, you can see that Jefferson and other American heroes were taking a huge risk. The Declaration of Independence was an extremely bold move. It showed King George III and the British government that America’s colonies were going to be free. Even if it meant death, Jefferson and his friends were going to stand up for what they believed in. That takes a lot of bravery.
Even if we aren’t standing up for our rights and creating an entirely new country, we can be like Jefferson and his friends in our own lives. We can be courageous in fighting for causes that mean the world to us. In the end, Jefferson, Washington, and the rest of the Founding Fathers are great examples as we live our lives. I encourage you to think about them when you are watching fireworks this Fourth of July!