This Day in History: July 4
Independence Day in the U.S., is an annual holiday commemorating the formal adoption by the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia. Although the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August, the Fourth of July holiday has been accepted as the official anniversary of U.S. independence and is celebrated in all states and territories of the U.S.
The holiday was first observed in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, at which time the Declaration of Independence was read aloud, city bells rang, and bands played. It was not declared a legal holiday, however, until 1941. The Fourth is traditionally celebrated publicly with parades and pageants, patriotic speeches, and organized firing of guns and cannons and displays of fireworks; early in the 20th century public concern for a "safe and sane" holiday resulted in restrictions on general use of fireworks. Family picnics and outings are a feature of private Fourth of July celebrations.