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July 4 wasn’t the original US Independence day

July 4 wasn’t the original US Independence day

July 4, 1776 was the day we declared our independence from Great Britain — and the day we now know as the mid-summer holiday of July 4. Or was it?

In 1870, almost one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was written, the United States Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday, as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1938 that Congress changed July 4 to a paid federal holiday.


So how did July 4 come to represent the exact day of our young nation’s independence from Great Britain?


Had it not been for some last-minute changes and edits, we would all be celebrating July 4 two days earlier — on July 2, when the Continental Congress actually decided to declare independence.  July 4 became significant as the date two days later ,when all of the members of the Continental Congress approved the final draft of the document and submitted it for approval (there was no Google Docs in those days).

And that copy wasn’t even signed until August 2, 1776 — but that’s beside the point.

July 4 became the date everyone soon remembered and associated with American independence.


Soon after, some peculiar coincidences pointed to the relevance of marking July 4 to commemorate independence:  


John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 later to serve as U.S. Presidents, died on the same day: July 4, 1826 — which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.

Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on July 4.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day, as another coincidence.

Therefore, by the end of the 19th century, July 4 became July 4 as we know it.

Traditions and customs include fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, family reunions, and community gatherings, all festooned with red, white and blue flags, balloons, streamers, and such.  This being America, you can also expect sales at major retailers to commemorate our nation’s history.


Celebrate July 4 with PurpleSlate invitation app

It’s the perfect time to get together with friends and family, even if you aren’t planning an enormous cook-off under a tent.  Think about the handful of people around you, and use PurpleSlate (a mobile invitation maker) to send them direct, personalized July 4th invitations. We are in beta! You can sign up here to be amongst the first ones to get invited to try the beta version of the app.

And please feel free to share this blogpost, for a little bit of a history lesson, too.

Happy 4th!


Posted by Jake Wengroff on June 17, 2015.

Jake WengroffI have served as the Founding Chairman of the Social Media Strategies Summit, and have written for publications such as and InformationWeek. I have been quoted in Time, Reuters, Bloomberg, and other publications on the topics of social media and marketing. If you enjoyed reading this post, join our email list to get free email updates.

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