- History & Culture
America declared independence on July 2—so why is the 4th a holiday?
The colonies had already voted for freedom from British rule, but debates over slavery held up the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Fireworks, flags, and hot dogs: The Fourth of July is steeped in patriotism and tradition, and celebrated as the day disgruntled American colonists broke ties with Great Britain and declared their intention to found a democratic nation of their own.
But the history behind the holiday isn’t so clear-cut. The anniversary of American independence is July 2, not July 4. And the revolutionaries who founded the nation didn’t guarantee all of its residents “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
In 1774, after years of unfair taxation and imperial control, complaints against the British crown had reached a fever pitch in the 13 American colonies. War had begun to look inevitable and so, in September, delegates from the colonies met to discuss