4th of July: What Is Independence Day and Why Do We Celebrate It on July Fourth?

Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, celebrates the American colonies severing ties with the British and the beginning of what we know now as the United States of America.

But how did America win its independence from Britain, and why do we celebrate America's freedom on July 4?

July 4 Independence Day 2019 What Why
Stock image: An American flag. The Fourth of July signifies freedom for Americans. Getty Images

The American Revolution

Never throw away tea, especially when it belongs to a Brit. In December 1773, an incident took place in Boston that set in motion a chain of events that led to the American Revolution. Also known as the Boston Tea Party, 342 chests of tea belonging to the British East India Company were thrown from ships into the Boston Harbor. It was done by American patriots disguised as Mohawk Indians, according to Britannica Encyclopedia, to protest taxes on tea and the monopoly of the East India Company.

In retaliation, the British Parliament put into place the Intolerable Acts, also known as the Coercive Acts, in 1774, which closed down Boston's port, rendered the Massachusetts government useless, and gave protections to British troops while in the American colonies.

Resentment from this enforcement resulted in the coming together of the First Continental Congress, who met in Philadelphia in September 1774. Peyton Randolph, a Virginia representative, was elected president. This, and the term Congress, are used today by the current U.S. governments.

This Congress wanted to reject the British rule and establish themselves as an independent group of colonies. In October 1774, it petitioned the British crown for a redress of grievances accumulated since 1763, and to force compliance, it called for a general boycott of British goods and eventual non-exportation of American products, except rice, to Britain or the British West Indies.

Alongside this, the colonials were rebelling against General Gage, who was put in charge by the British after the Boston Tea Party. According to Britannica, groups such as the Sons of Liberty worked to uncover British plans, which led to the storming of Fort William and Mary.

This was the start of the U.S. War for Independence, which didn't end until October 1781.

The Birth of the United States of America

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress made its decree for freedom and two days later they formally adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4. Hence why we celebrate Independence Day on July 4 every year.

This declaration was used throughout the American Revolution to inspire troops to carry on fighting against the British. According to Britannica, on July 9, 1776 General George Washington ordered the Declaration to be read aloud to his men to help them find new meaning in the war for independence.

In a letter to his wife on July 3, 1776 , founding father John Adams' wrote:

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."