Fast facts on Independence Day and other public holidays in the United States
July 4th is celebrated as the quintessential American holiday, Independence Day.
Typically full of patriotic displays, celebrations, and homage to the past of the country and its veterans, Independence Day has been a hallmark of American freedom since the War of Independence.
History of independence
While July 4th is the big day for the current celebrations, the real day when America’s original 13 colonies, by a vote of the Continental Congress, officially decided to separate from Britain and fight for independence was July 2, 1776. Two days later, all of the colonies voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence as a farewell letter to British rule.
William and Mary Quarterly Archival Records published in July 1945 reports that the real resolution to become an independent nation was drafted and presented to the Continental Congress on June 7, 1776.
History shows that the American debate hasn’t changed much, with legislation and voting still a tedious process. Debate on the resolution continued until June 10, when the remainder of the discussion was postponed to July 1, according to the Journals of Congress for that year.
Even after the colonies, now states, came to an agreement and voted to combat British rule, the version of the Declaration of Independence we are thinking of was not there.
The famous copy of the Declaration of Independence with the signatures of all the founding fathers was not even signed until August 2, 1776, according to Professor Wilfred J. Ritz, Washington, and Lee University in Lexington, Virg. Ritz retired in 1985.
Although Independence Day is one of the biggest public holidays in the United States, there are 11 other permanent federal holidays. Congressional research services say the first officially recognized holidays were decided in 1870 by Congress.
The first four official holidays in the United States were designated by Congress in 1870. New Years Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were chosen, and Congress granted workers paid time off. federal in Washington, DC
10 years later, Congress chose another, making George Washington’s birthday an officially recognized holiday in the United States. In 1885, they “extended vacation coverage for certain public holidays to all federal employees,” instead of reserving it exclusively for Washington-based workers.
Seven more holidays were added after 1888.
Memorial Day was added in 1888, originally called Decoration Day. Labor Day was added in 1894, Armistice Day was created in 1938. Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954 to expand the number of honored American soldiers to include those who have fought in World War II and the Korean War.
The inauguration day was chosen in 1957 for a quadrennial celebration, that is, once every four years, and originally only in the District of Columbia.
Columbus Day was added to the list of federal holidays in 1968, followed by Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 1983.
Now in 2021, for the first time in decades, Congress has added a new federal holiday, Juneteenth.