In 1775, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, a small number of colonists stated their desire to separate from Great Britain. At the time, those who were in favor of splitting from King George III’s monarchy were considered radical in their beliefs. However, by the middle of 1776, many more colonists began to teeter on the side of separation, due in part to the growing hostility that the Thirteen Colonies had garnered for Great Britain.
On June 7th, 1776, the members of the Continental Congress met at what is now called Independence Hall in Philadelphia, to discuss a proposal calling for the colonies’ separation from Great Britain.
The motion to split, introduced by Virginia delegate, Richard Henry Lee, sparked heated debate among the Congress members, and the vote was adjourned.
It wasn’t until July 4th, 1776, that the amendments were solidified, and the document was complete. Historians also believe that it wasn’t until August 2nd that all the proper signatures on the Declaration of Independence were collected.
The fourth day of the seventh month was officially recognized as a national holiday in 1870, when Congress declared Independence Day (July 4th), along with Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November), Christmas (December 25th), New Year’s Day (January 1st), and George Washington’s Birthday (February 17th) as reserved federal holidays.
Further legislation surrounding the Fourth of July passed in 1938 when a provision was granted to make it a paid holiday for all federal employees. Thus, the Fourth of July as we know it today was born.