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Why do we Celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July?

Why do we Celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July?

So why all the “bells, bonfires, and illuminations” on July 4th?

National Archives Join the celebration in front of the National Archives this year in Washington, DC (National Archives)

Why July 4?

The Fourth of July is the date the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence—the day the founders approved one of America's most treasured documents. What we are truly celebrating on Independence Day is the Declaration of Independence and the spirit and principles that it so eloquently articulates.

Where can you see this National Treasure?

If you are in the Washington, DC area, visit the National Archives Experience to see all of the original Charters of Freedom including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The National Archives is conveniently located in the heart of the National Mall. Find directions on the National Archives website; use of the Washington, DC Metro or other public transportation is encouraged.

If you visit on July 4, you might also meet special guests Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John and Abigail Adams. Special family activities, presentation of colors, a fife and drum corps and a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence complete the celebration at the Archives.

Reservations are not required for the Charters of Freedom. However advance reservations for a timed entry are highly recommended, especially during peak season.

Declaration of Independence

Did you Know?

We could have celebrated Independence Day on the anniversary of the battle of Yorktown or the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War. We could have celebrated it, as John Adams erroneously predicted, on July 2nd, the date the Continental Congress resolved to break from Great Britain. The day after that momentous decision, he wrote to his wife Abigail,

"The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . 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."

To learn more about places that commemorate our country’s founding, read Celebrate the Birth of Our Nation.

Happy Declaration of Independence Day, America!