What gives the Fourth of July its significance is that our Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1776.
It was in Philadelphia, and the signers of that document, composed by Thomas Jefferson, knew that this declaration of independence from the dictatorial rule of Great Britain might also be – literally – their death sentence.
They knew full well that the wrath and might of the British army would be sailing across the Atlantic to descend on the relatively defenseless colonies. They knew their scattered “states” didn’t have the numbers or arms or training to stand against the British, much less defeat them militarily. Yet they put their signatures, and their lives, their families, their destiny, on that parchment.
And so, against all odds, and even against reason, that Declaration told the world that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”
The only importance of the 4th day of July, then, is that it marks the birth of the United States of America.
Most of the people living in those colonies had simply had enough of British domination, of working and virtually existing at the pleasure of a king they didn’t know and who obviously considered them his indentured servants.
They wanted to be free, to make their own decisions, to govern themselves and breathe the sweet air of liberty.
The first celebration of American Independence took place four days later in Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress was still meeting.
The ceremony began with a public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Then, from the tower of the State House, now called Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell rang out.
The coat of arms of the king of England was taken down. And there was a parade. And cannons boomed. The people, though aware of what lay ahead, cheered! A new nation sprang to life.