The Fourth of July, which is also referred to as Independence Day, is a federal holiday in the United States that celebrates the birth of independence in this country. The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and days later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson after over 80 changes were made to his original draft. On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia's Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
-The Aiken Foundation