The United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4 -- a tradition that dates back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence.
Two days later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Some constitutional scholars argue that Americans should mark Independence Day on July 2 because of the historic vote.
In the modern day United States, thousands of communities organize annual displays of fireworks to celebrate the holiday. Among the most dazzling is the event that takes place in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
And the tradition has a long history.
Congress authorized the use of pyrotechnics as part of Independence Day celebrations in 1777 in Philadelphia. They’ve been a mainstay of July Fourth celebrations ever since.
In strange bit of history, three American presidents died on July 4 — two of them “Founding Fathers:” John Adams, and the original draftsman of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. In yet another odd twist of history, the two former presidents died within hours of one another.
The fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, also passed away on July 4.
Many other stories surround the birth of the United States. Here’s an award-winning documentary produced by Frontline, a public affairs program that produces and broadcasts documentaries that are distributed by the Public Broadcasting System.