Independence Day Slideshow

Independence Day

  • Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 enjoy the fireworks presentation atop a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement during the Twentynine Palms Independence Day celebration at Luckie Park, July 4, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Pfc. Levi Schultz)
    Independence Day Military Discounts
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    Independence Day celebrates the drafting of the document that severed ties with England on July 4, 1776. Celebrate our freedom ...
  • Marines attached to the USS Arlington march through the streets of Bristol, Rhode Island during the town’s annual Fourth of July Parade, July 4, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Cpl. Dalton A. Precht)
    Fourth of July Events
    Military.com
    On this Fourth of July, try celebrating our country’s independence at the following holiday events offered for Independence Day...
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    Fun Facts: 4th of July by the Numbers
    Military.com|
    Here's some fun numbers to keep in mind as you celebrate Independence Day.
  • The Reason We Celebrate
    Why Do We Celebrate Independence Day?
    Military.com|
    The Declaration of Independence is America's most cherished symbol of liberty, capturing the convictions of our hearts and souls.
  • The Declaration on Display
    The Declaration of Independence
    Military.com
    Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation's most che...
  • Colonel David Dodd
    Celebrating Faith, Service, and Sweet Freedom this July Fourth
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    In the military, we were part of something much bigger than ourselves, serving in an institution with a rich history of seven v...
  • Fireworks spelling USA
    The Best Cities for 4th of July Celebrations
    Military.com|
    If you plan on celebrating the 4th of July this year, you'll want to know which cities rank the best in terms of celebrating ou...
  • Fireworks bursting in front of a flag.
    Firework Safety
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    Fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory when children and adults are injured or killed while using firewo...
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    Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe on the Fourth of July
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    Before you throw your first burger on the grill or toss another shrimp on the barbie this holiday weekend, be sure to take a fe...
  • The Declaration of Independence
    Fun Facts About the Declaration of Independence
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    The Declaration of Independence set the course for our nation on a journey of freedom, which also led this historic document on...

The History of the 4th of July

Adams and Jefferson Singing the Declaration

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on July 4th, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.

Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Lee's words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies' case for independence. Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.

On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Discussions of Jefferson's Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two -- Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock's signed his name "with a great flourish" so England's "King George can read that without spectacles!"

Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.

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