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Original Documents
· Abraham Lincoln's Independence Day Address of July 7, 1863
· Address at Independence Hall, President John F. Kennedy Philadelphia, July 4, 1962
· The Declaration of Independence
· Declaration of Independence (German Translation of 1776)
· Declaration of Independence (German Translation of 1950)
· President Obama's Independence Day Message 2010
· Thomas Jefferson Online Resources

Fireworks in NYC on July 4th

A display of fireworks illuminates the
sky near the Statue of Liberty as seen from Jersey City, N.J. on July 4, 2004. (© AP/WWP)

Independence Day is regarded as the birthday of the United States as a free and independent nation. Most Americans simply call it the "Fourth of July," on which date it always falls.

The holiday recalls the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. At that time, the people of the 13 British colonies located along the eastern coast of what is now the United States were involved in a war over what they considered unjust treatment by the king and parliament in Britain. The war began in 1775. As the war continued, the colonists realized that they were fighting not just for better treatment; they were fighting for freedom from England's rule. The Declaration of Independence, signed by leaders from the colonies, stated this clearly, and for the first time in an official document the colonies were referred to as the United States of America. It is a day of picnics and patriotic parades, a night of concerts and fireworks. The flying of the American flag (which also occurs on Memorial Day and other holidays) is widespread. On July 4, 1976, the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence was marked by grand festivals across the nation.

see also:
About the USA > U.S. History > Revolutionary Period and New Nation
About the USA > Government > The Flag

Feature Articles
Leah Meixner and her father watch an Indedpendence Day parade in Anchorage, Alaska
.(© AP Images)

U.S. Independence Day a Civic and Social Event
By Michael Jay Friedman., June 22, 2010.
The United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4, a day of patriotic celebration and family events throughout the country. In the words of Founding Father John Adams, the holiday is "the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, …. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
The holiday is a major civic occasion, with roots deep in the Anglo-American tradition of political freedom...

Fourth of July Music Reflects U.S. History, Diversity
By Lauren Monsen., June 30, 2008.
The patriotic songs that have become staples of U.S. Independence Day celebrations reflect the nation's history and the contributions of immigrants to the country's diverse culture.
At its July 4th concerts, the Marine Corps Band includes 'music that represents the full spectrum' of U.S. songwriting talent, said Master Gunnery Sergeant Mike Ressler of the Marine Corps Band Library. [...] For Americans, strains of John Philip Sousa's 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' or George M. Cohan's 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' evoke July 4 memories. 'The Star-Spangled Banner' (written in 1814 by lawyer/poet Francis Scott Key and declared the national anthem in 1931) is invariably played on Independence Day... .

Making Sense of the Fourth of July
This article discusses the history of the Fourth of July, which celebrates the Declaration of Independence rather than the actual independence from Britain, and how the Declaration came to usurp a role that Americans normally delegated to bills of rights. (Washington File, 07 August 1997. Reprinted from American Heritage, August 7, 1997)

Celebrating the Fourth of July
There once was a time in America when the year was marked by two eagerly awaited high festivals -- Christmas and Independence Day. Asked to pick which was best, even children might have chosen the Fourth. From country to city it was a day of fluttering flags, passionate emotions, and bombastic pleasures commemorating a freedom so recently won it was not yet taken for granted. (Washington File, 01 August 1998. Reprinted courtesy of Early American Homes Magazine)


· 4th of July at the White House 2010
· 4th of July at the White House 2009
· American Patriotic Music
· Patriotic Melodies
· U.S. Air Force Band Patriotic Music
· U.S. Army Band Ceremonial Music

Exhibits - Digital Images
· American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Star Spangled Banner
· American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Declaration of Independence
· Declaring Independence
· Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia
· Online Exhibit Hall: Declaration of Independence
· Photo Gallery: Celebrating Independence Day
· Today in History: Independence Day

For High School Students
· Celebrating Independence
· Independence Day
· Independence Day on the Net

Teacher Resources
· Facts for Features: The Fourth of July 2010
· Four Freedoms for the Fourth
· How We Adopted the Fourth of July
· Independence Day Lesson Plan
· Teaching with Historic Places: Independence Day

Links Lists
· YahooI Holidays and Observances: Fourth of July

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
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Updated: September 2010