Have you ever wondered why on the fourth of July, the United States has a big celebration? Did you know that July 4th every year is also a holiday known as Independence Day — but the holiday itself was not declared a legal holiday until 1870?
Before the United States was it’s own country, we were British Colonies. July 4th, 1776 was the day that the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This document stated that all 13 colonies intended to separate from Britain. This document was not written all in one day — The Declaration of Independence came after a long period of deliberation, debate, and compromise and was not fully signed until August 1776!
The fourth of July has become a uniquely patriotic tradition — meaning it is a day that we use to celebrate the United States of America. The day is used to commemorate the courage our ancestors had to separate from England and the beginning of the USA as we have come to know it today — while honoring America’s birthday! Think of the fireworks and parades as a nation-wide birthday party for the USA, and many people choose to spend this holiday with their families and communities.
However, it is important to note that this is not a happy day for all communities, especially many Native American and Indigenous cultures in North America, as well as many immigrants/undocumented residents and their families. It is important to be proud and celebrate the nation we are a part of, but remember — not everyone has the same history and story! It’s our job to learn all that we can about the different and distinct peoples of our nation.
Fun Facts: The Original 13 Colonies + What They Are Today
- New England colonies
- Province of New Hampshire, later New Hampshire
- Province of Massachusetts Bay, later Massachusetts and Maine
- Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, later Rhode Island
- Connecticut Colony, later Connecticut
- Middle colonies
- Province of New York, later New York and Vermont
- Province of New Jersey, later New Jersey
- Province of Pennsylvania, later Pennsylvania
- Delaware Colony (before 1776, the Lower Counties on Delaware), later Delaware
- Southern colonies
- (Virginia and Maryland actually comprised the Chesapeake Colonies, but often voted with the Southern colonies.)
- Province of Maryland, later Maryland
- Colony and Dominion of Virginia, later Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia
- Province of North Carolina, later North Carolina and Tennessee
- Province of South Carolina, later South Carolina
- Province of Georgia, later Georgia, northern sections of Alabama and Mississippi
Do you have any favorite facts about the Fourth of July? Leave them in the comments below! Happy Independence Day!