Independence Day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but its history goes back to the 18th century.On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document stating that the 13 colonies would no longer be tied to Britain. The Fourth of July is now celebrated across the United States with barbecues, fireworks, parades, and concerts.It’s important to note that though the Fourth of July commemorates the day freedom was achieved for white Americans, Black Americans were not freed from slavery until nearly a century later.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Though Independence Day is celebrated on July 4, a motion for independence was actually voted in favor by 12 of the 13 colonies on July 2 (New York voted on July 9).John Adams famously believed that Independence Day should be celebrated on July 2. According to Time, “He went to his grave refusing to take part in Independence Day celebrations on the Fourth of July.”July 4 marks the day that the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by the Continental Congress. It has been celebrated since 1777 and been a federal holiday since 1941.For centuries, the holiday has been celebrated with barbecues, fireworks, parades, and concerts. However, the holiday commemorating American freedom existed for nearly 100 years before all Americans were free. In 1865, the last slaves were freed in the most remote state at the time, Texas, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Though the Fourth of July is an an important marker for freedom in America, it’s important to remember the holiday’s history.
Here are 20 vintage photos of families, friends, and communities celebrating the holiday through the years.