The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941.
In America, during the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists would hold annual celebration in honor of the kings birthday. In contrast, after 1976, colonist would celebrate independence by holding mock funerals for King George III, to symbolize the end of the monarchy’s hold on America’s liberty. Early Independence day festivities also included: concerts, bonfire, parades, and firing of cannons.
Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war.
George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778.
In 1781, several months before the key American victory at Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.
Independence Day acquired its unofficial theme song on July 4, 1897, at the Manhattan Beach Music Hall on the eastern end of Coney Island. On that Sunday afternoon, sometime after 4 p.m., John Philip Sousa lifted his baton and cued his band to launch into their latest hit, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Sousa had not composed it specifically for the holiday, but it has been a marching-band staple on every Fourth of July since 1897.
Why fireworks on the Fourth of July? Fireworks have been used to celebrate special occasions for sometime, even before the American Revolution. Our founding father’s even believed in celebrating our independence with fireworks. In a famous letter John Adams wrote to his wife, he states how the holiday deserves to be celebrated with “illuminations” or fireworks. “The day will be most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”