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How did the Fourth of July become a National Holiday?

We celebrate American Independence on the Fourth of July every year. We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. But how exactly did the fourth of July become a national holiday?

For the the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration of Independence was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. It was too new and too much else was happening in the young nation. By the 1790s, a time of bitter politics, not unlike current times, even the Declaration had become controversial. One side admired Jefferson and the Declaration, while another side thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against a few of their policies.

By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past - but that would soon change.

After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of the Jefferson party. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again with the date "July 4, 1776" printed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may have even helped to promote the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated.

As people gained awareness and understood the true meaning of the event, celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was written, Congress declared the "Fourth of July" to be a national holiday. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941. So, as with any historical event of meaning and importance, we clearly can see that things did not happen overnight. Therefore, we celebrate and can now appreciate even more the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth of July.

FILAMATIC wishes you and your family a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!

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