The Fourth of July is an annually celebrated national holiday in order how to commemorate the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1776. It is both a state and federal holiday and all government offices are closed for its observance.
The history of the Fourth of July actually begins over a month earlier in June of 1776. On June 7, Richard Henry Lee, a delegate to the Second Continental Congress from Virginia, proposed a resolution calling for independence between the American Colonies and the Kingdom of Great Britain. A lengthy debate ensued and there were delays since not all of the congressional delegates had been granted the authority to vote for such a measure by their respective state governments. As a result it would take until July 2 for the resolution to be finally approved by Congress. Once the resolution was adopted attention turned to the draft of the declaration that had been prepared by Thomas Jefferson. Again debate would delay the adoption of the document, but this time only for a few days. On the Fourth of July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the Continental Congress.
One common misconception about the Declaration is that it was signed immediately upon adoption. This is not the case since in reality it was not until August when the delegates actually signed the Declaration.
The Fourth of July is also notable since it is the day that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both signatories on the Declaration and former Presidents, died in 1826 within hours of one another. In 1831 President James Monroe also died on the Fourth of July.
Since the holiday falls in the middle of summer there are several outdoor festivities associated with its celebration. Most often these celebrations include parades, patriotic music, readings of the Declaration of Independence, barbeques, and many ultimately culminate with elaborate fireworks displays in the evening. Some of the most iconic displays take place in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and along the National Mall in Washington, DC. The cities of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario jointly celebrate the International Freedom Festival in recognition of both the Fourth of July and Canada Day which falls on July 1. The city of Bristol, Rhode Island is recognized for hosting the longest running Fourth of July celebration, having been doing so annually since 1785.