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Why do we celebrate the 4th of July? Independence Day facts, history

Fireworks detonate above Mount Rushmore National Memorial, July 3. Approximately 30,000 people came to the memorial for the 2008 Independence Day Celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Marc I. Lane)

July 4th is Independence Day, a time to show your patriotic pride.

The federal holiday marks the day in 1776 when the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, signaling the official separation of the colonies from Great Britain amid the Revolutionary War.

Since that day, July 4, 1776 has been considered America’s “birthday,” making her 244 years old today.

According to the Library of Congress, Philadelphians marked the first anniversary of American independence with a celebration, but it wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that July 4th celebrations spread across the new nation.

Congress passed a law-making Independence Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1870. The day is often celebrated with parades, fireworks shows and parties, though much of the celebrations this year have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Here are some facts about the Declaration of Independence from Constitutionfacts.com:

Despite conspiracy theories and movies, there isn’t a secret map or code on the back of the Declaration of Independence. There are words, however. An unknown person wrote “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776” on the back. It’s believed that was added as a label when the document was rolled up for storage.

Thomas Jefferson is often called the “author” of the Declaration of Independence, but he wasn’t the only person who contributed important ideas. Jefferson was a member of a five-person committee appointed by the Continental Congress to write the Declaration. The committee included Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.

The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776. In fact, independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, a date that John Adams believed would be “the most memorable epocha in the history of America.” On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. It wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776.

The two youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence were both from South Carolina. Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina were both born in 1749 and were only 26 when they signed the Declaration. The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin, who was born in 1706 and 70 at the time of the Declaration.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the vote to approve the Declaration of Independence.

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