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Festivals: American Day of Independence (4th July)

Type: Reference material

This is considered to be the birthday of the United States of America and is celebrated each year with fireworks displays, parades, family gatherings and concerts. 

At the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 (a conflict mainly about trading rights between Great Britain and France in the North American colonies), Britain's victory had cost them a lot of money. To make up some of this money, the British parliament introduced new taxes in the colonies. The colonies were unhappy, saying they had already contributed to the war by supplying manpower, money and supplies to the British army. They were also unhappy that they had no representation in the parliament and therefore no say in decision-making. In 1774, the thirteen colonies located along the eastern coast sent representatives to Philadelphia to form the First Continental Congress. They were unhappy with Britain's rule, but were not ready to declare war. 

Violent protests against the British rule were taking place more often and in April 1775, the American War of Independence unofficially broke out. In May, the same thirteen colonies sent representatives to form the Second Continental Congress. They tried to work out their differences with Britain but war was still not officially declared. In June 1776 a committee was formed to write a declaration of independence, including: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft and after a few changes and some days later, on the 4th July a vote was taken on the declaration. Nine colonies voted in favour of the declaration. The signing of the declaration was completed a month later but the 4th July was accepted as the anniversary of the day of independence.

The first celebration to commemorate the declaration of independence took place the year after.

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