When we think of the 4th of July, we think of BBQs, fireworks, parades, and summer. You may see red, white, and blue decorations or people handing flags outside their businesses or homes.
Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the 4th of July? July 4th is America’s birthday. It was the day we gained our independence. Find out more about this patriotic holiday with this 4th of July Facts for Kids.
What is the 4th of July?
July 4th is American independence day. It celebrates the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed, separating America from British rule. July 4th is America’s birthday. Happy Birthday, America!
Why do we call it Independence Day?
We celebrate the 4th of July because it represents the day America became separate from British rule. Under British rule, the Colonists were unhappy with the British government.
They felt they were unfairly taxed and had no vote on the laws that affected them. The colonists decided to write a document announcing they were no longer part of the British government and would be a new nation called the United States of America.
This document is known as the Declaration of Independence.
Declaration of Independence
The continental congress declared victory in breaking away from Great Britain on July 2nd, 1776. On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence gave the United States independence from Great Britain.
The Declaration of Independence was officially signed on August 2nd, 1776. The first person to sign the Declaration of Independence was John Hancock.
Thomas Jefferson is credited for writing the Declaration of Independence. However, the Committee of Five, our Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston) were all involved with the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.
America didn’t always have 50 states. America started off with 13 colonies that were under the rule of Great Britain.
The original thirteen colonies were Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Virginia.
The American Revolutionary War
The Declaration of Independence was written during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
Before the American Revolutionary War, the 13th colonies had freedom but were still under British Rule. The colonists did not want to follow British laws. They wanted to solve their problems and make their laws here.
The British did not like this. They wanted more control over the colonies, so they made new laws. The colonists did not like the new rules. They were least happy about the Stamp Act.
Under the Stamp Act, colonists were forced to pay taxes on printed items, including newspapers. The colonists protested the Stamp Act. In 1767 the Townshend Acts were passed.
The Townshend Act taxed many items, including tea, paper, glass, lead, and paint, coming to the ports. The colonists became angrier.
The British felt they had to do something to keep order; they sent soldiers to Boston Massachuttes. On March 5th, 1770, British soldiers shot into crowds of people, killing Americans. This incident was called the Boston Massacure. On that same day, the British parliament stopped most of the Townshend Act tax but kept the tax on tea.
Boston Tea Party
In 1773 the British parliament passed a law making tea expensive for the colonists. The colonists were angry, and on December 16th, 1773, colonists went on a British ship to Boston Harbor and threw their tea cargo into the water. It was known as the Boston Tea Party.
After the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament made new laws that colonists felt were unfair, called the Intolerable Acts. The British wanted the colonists to pay for the tea they threw into the water.
The colonists knew they had to do something. They met together in 1774 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The colonists told the British to stop the Intolerable Acts. The British refused, so the 13 colonies knew they had to work together to fight the British.
The colonists formed troops called minute men. Minute Men had to be prepared to fight at a moment’s notice. They put George Washington in charge of an army and fought against the British. The Colonists won, and the United States of America was born. George Washington would go on to be America’s first president.
4th of July Facts for Kids
Did you know the country’s population in 1776 was around 2.5 million? Today the population is about 304 million.
The first event celebrating the 4th of July at the Whitehouse was in 1801. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national animal of the US, but he was outvoted, and the bald eagle became the national animal.
Do you know why we celebrate the 4th of July with parades, fireworks, and BBQ?
Many believe that it has to do with a letter John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3rd, 1776. In the letter, Adams said the day should be celebrated with parades, games, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one side of the continent to the other from this time forward and forever more.
The Fourth of July became a federal holiday in 1870. It became a federal paid holiday in 1941.
The first Fourth of July firework display took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1777.
Every state has fireworks displays on July 4th. The largest fireworks display is Macy’s Annual 4th of July fireworks in New York City.
Two men who signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died on July 4th, 1826.
July 4th, 1826, was also the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Calvin Coolidge is the only President that was born on July 4th.
Americans spend a total of one billion dollars on fireworks every year.
More hot dogs are eaten on July 4th than any other day.
4th of July Traditions
- Handing an American Flag
- Having a BBQ
- Thanking soldiers who fight to keep us safe
- Watching fireworks displays
- Spending time with family
- Going to the beach
- Listening to patriotic songs: including our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner
- Coney Island Hot Dog eating championship (Joey Chestnut has won 14 times!)
- On July 4th, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped 13 times to honor the original 13 colonies.
Popular July 4th Foods
BBQs and family gatherings are popular on July 4th. Below is a list of popular foods served on July 4th.
- anything barbeque
- hot dogs
- corn on the cob
- potato salad
- ice cream
- foods colored in red, white, and blue
- pies and cobblers
- fruit salad
Representatives of each of the 13 colonies who signed the Declaration of Independence.
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Massachusetts: John Hancock
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Fourth of July Coloring Pages
Free printable Fourth of July coloring page