On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on July 4th, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.
Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: "Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
Lee's words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies' case for independence. Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.
On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Discussions of Jefferson's Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two -- Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock's signed his name "with a great flourish" so England's "King George can read that without spectacles!"
Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.
Go watch some fireworks
Each year, cities across the United States compete for the title of best Independence weekend firework display.
Here are five of the biggest and brightest pyrotechnic shows to look out for:
Fireworks in New York City.
1. The 40th Macy's 4th of July Fireworks, New York City
Nearly 3 million people watch the Macy's firework extravaganza each year. The 25-minute show will launch from the Brooklyn Bridge and across the East River between East 23rd and East 37th streets. This year's performers include Kenny Chesney and Meghan Trainor.
2. The 2016 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, Boston
With performances by the legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra and pop stars Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, this show is sure to attract a huge crowd. It will be broadcast nationally on CBS from 9-11 p.m..
3. National Mall Fourth of July Celebration, Washington, D.C.
If reading the Declaration of Independence has you feeling extra patriotic, what better place to celebrate than in front of the nation's most iconic monuments and memorials? Try snagging a spot on the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial or Jefferson Memorial for a breathtaking view of the firework show across the reflecting pool.Fireworks light up the sky over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.
4. Music City July 4th, Nashville
This year, Nashville has a full day of family friendly events planned out. Free concerts, activities, and a choreographed firework show synchronized to a performance from the Nashville Symphony, all taking place at Ascend Amphitheater and The Green at Riverfront Park.
5. Fair St. Louis, St. Louis
Dubbed "America's Biggest Birthday Party," Fair St. Louis will take place in the 1,371-acre Forest Park -- where the 1904 World's Fair was held. This year, organizers plan to set off 15,000 pounds of fireworks throughout the three-day festivities. This one is sure to make a bang.
6. San Diego “A Salute to the Military Families of our Service Heroes”The 16th Annual “Big Bay Boom“ July 4th Fireworks Show Is The Largest Fireworks Show on the West Coast! Show Time: 9:00 – 9:20pm Music Simulcast: Listen to the THE MIGHTY 109 AM and MAX FM 105.7 TV: shows start at 8pm and go through the show until 9:30pm – Watch Live on Fox 5 (San Diego) or KTLA 5 (Los Angeles)
Best Viewing: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North/South Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Coronado Landing, Point Loma homes, Liberty Station, Little Italy, Downtown hotels-high rises- condos, boats on the water, Port parks
7. Fireworks Displays in the Bay Area www.patch.com
On Saturday, a celebration will take place at the Berkeley Marina, starting at noon. Food, games, carnival rides and more will be featured, leading up to the fireworks display at 9:35 p.m. over the water from the end of the pier.
The city and county of San Francisco will hold their annual waterfront Fourth of July celebration at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Live music performances will begin as early as noon and the fireworks display will start at approximately 9 p.m.
The Marin County Fair has been holding a fireworks display since it began on Wednesday. Fireworks display will continue every night at the fair, starting at 9 p.m., until the fair closes on Sunday night. The fair is being held at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael.
The Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa will hold a Red, White and Boom celebration on Saturday. Live music will begin at 4 p.m. and a fireworks display will start at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday morning, San Jose will hold its historic Rose, White and Blue parade, featuring home-made floats, live bands, dance groups, antique cars and more. The parade will begin at Lincoln High School parking lot at 555 Dana Ave. at 10 a.m. and will end at the corner of The Alameda and Lenzen Avenue. The parade will be followed by a picnic along The Alameda.
Also in the south bay, the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View will host The Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular Saturday night, beginning at 8 p.m. The fireworks display will be accompanied by a performance by the
San Francisco Symphony. The Shoreline Amphitheatre is located at 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy.
California’s Great America, located at 4701 Great America Pkwy in Santa Clara, will hold a celebration with an all-you-can-eat barbecue and a patriotic fireworks show at 9:50 p.m.
Have fun, be safe and Happy Reading