American Independence Day


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Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC

On the 4th July every year since 1776, the United States of America has celebrated Independence Day with a National holiday honouring the birth of their nation. On that day, the United States claimed its right to self-rule from Great Britain with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

On 2nd July, The Continental Congress, seeking peace between Britain and America, called for American independence from their Colonial rulers. A declaration explaining the reasons for this, which was largely written by Thomas Jefferson, was also adopted by the Congress. Then, On July 4, the United States claimed its independence from England by signing the declaration.

On 6th July, George Washington received official word from John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, saying that although the Congress had struggled with the idea of American independence for some time, finally it was going to happen. As Washington’s soldiers stood ready for the leaders of their regiments to read the Declaration of Independence, they heard their commander explain that Congress had “dissolved the connection” between “this country” and Great Britain and declared the “United Colonies of North America” to be “free and independent states.”

It was after this statement that Thomas Jefferson made history with a speech declaring that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson claimed that since Britain and King George III had trampled on these rights, the people of the United States of America had the right to break the political bonds that tied them to Britain and to form a new government where the people would rule themselves.

Stirred by what they heard, many citizens raced through New York, down Broadway, towards a large statue of George III, which they toppled and decapitated. Later on, the statute was melted down and used to make the bullets which would be needed in the coming battles to defend New York and the new nation that lay beyond it.

Today on 4th July, many political leaders appear at public events and talk about the nation’s heritage, laws, history, and people. The day is celebrated in a variety of ways, including, picnics, parades, air shows, barbecues, fireworks and musical concerts. Independence Day fireworks are usually accompanied with the patriotic songs like “God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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