The United States celebrates its birth by honoring the proclamation of independence made by the People through their representatives in 1776.
July 4 is the day set aside for the nation's birthday celebration. On that date in 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously adopted a Declaration of Independence from England. The members of the Congress were from all thirteen of the American colonies, elected as their representatives by the colonial legislatures.
The Declaration followed attempts to negotiate a solution to colonial complaints about taxes and trade issues with King George of England. As the Declaration was debated, British troops were sailing into New York City Harbor to quash the "rebellion." There had already been fighting in New England, especially around Boston.
The Declaration of Independence is a legal argument. It presents the reasons why the American colonists believed they were lawfully entitled to reject the rule of England. Its main author was Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who later became the third president of the United States.
The Declaration begins with a statement of general principles. These can be summarized as asserting that government exists to protect and support the People's rights. If the government fails to perform this duty, the People are entitled to reject it and form a new government.
|Don McLean sings "American Pie"|
4th of July, 2013, Portland, Maine
On the basis of the British government's failure to perform its duty to its People in the colonies, the Continental Congress declared independence from the British Crown.
The United States' birthday is a summer holiday, so the celebrations are often held outdoors. John Adams, another signer of the Declaration (and who would become the second president of the United States) described how the event should be celebrated in a letter to his wife the day the Congress agreed to declare independence.
He said it should be remembered "with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations [fireworks] from one end of this continent to the other...." And so it is: parades of marching bands and uniforms march through the streets of cities and towns. Usually someone reads the text of the Declaration in a solemn ceremony with the national flag displayed. Quite often there is a Fourth of July baseball game or a Fourth of July run/walk for charity. Guns and cannons are shot and fireworks are exploded.
The Fourth of July is a noisy holiday. In fact, it's a truly joyful, noisy, happy birthday party.