What Are You Celebrating?

Leadership Coaching with Mel Brown

On Monday, July 4, families across the United States will be enjoying family picnics, barbequing in the back yard and watching parades, but what are they celebrating? Most people would quickly answer, “The founding of our country” or “Independence Day.”

However, it was on September 3, 1783, not July 4, 1776, that representatives of King George III and representatives of the United States of America signed the Treaty of Paris, which were the terms of agreement to end the war and gave the United States of America its independence from Great Britain. The last British troops left New York City on November 25, 1783 and the United States “Congress of the Confederation” ratified the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784.

In 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved, and the document was published. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for them.

The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.