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810 South Fourth Street
Waco, TX 76706
USA

(254) 753-5166

A foundation that preserves and showcases four historic house museums and hosts multiple educational opportunities throughout the year.
 

Blog

Independence Day in American History

Historic Waco

Did you know that John Adams insisted July 2nd was actually Independence Day? 

The vote for American Independence took place on the 2nd, so he sent word to his wife that July 2 "will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great Anniversary Festival," and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” 

 

How was July 4th actually celebrated? 

On July 4th, 1776, colonists held "funerals" for King George III, celebrating with parades, concerts, and bonfires. George Washington doubled his soldiers' rum rations on July 4, 1778, and a few years later, Massachusetts was the first state to declare it a holiday. It wasn't until 1870, however, that the U.S. government made the 4th of July an official national holiday, and 1941 was the first year the government offered a paid holiday to all federal employees. Many celebration traditions remain unchanged since the Civil War, though. Music, parades, baseball games, watermelon eating, greased pig chasing, military drills, and orations of the Declaration of Independence mark some post-Civil War era festivities. 

Fireworks.jpg

So what about fireworks? 

Many historians believe we have China to thank for the marvelous display of pyrotechnics! By the Renaissance, fireworks had made their way to Europe, most prominently displayed in Italy. European rulers also used fireworks to commemorate important events. John Adams' letter to his wife might even predict the use of fireworks across the nation with his prediction of "Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other." What part of the nation are you illuminating this July 4th? 

Connect with us on social media to let us know! 

 

Thanks to: history.com for quotes and picture