Q: How was the 4th of July first celebrated and when did the celebrations begin?
Answer: Monday is the 246th birthday of the United States. Here’s how it happened.
The Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and celebrations began soon after.
For example, there was a public reading of the declaration on July 8 in Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress met. On July 24, Williamsburg, Virginia marked the declaration with a public reading, parade, and cannon and musket fire. Adoption anniversary celebrations began the following year.
John Adams described the events in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, in a letter to his daughter Abigail “Nabby” Adams saying, “The idea of taking heed to this day was not conceived until the 2nd of this month, and it is not wasn’t mentioned until the third. It was too late to have a sermon, as everyone wanted, so it has to be postponed for another year.
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There were also days of decorated ships and boats, gun salutes, a parade and more.
“Given the delay in conception and the suddenness of execution,” Adams wrote, “I was amazed at the universal joy and eagerness that was discovered, and the brilliance and splendor of every part of this joyful display. I had forgotten the ringing of the bells all day and all evening, and the bonfires in the streets, and the fireworks being played.”
You can read Adams’ letter in full on the Library of Congress website. A direct link to the letter, which includes further vivid descriptions of the celebrations, can be found at tinyurl.com/adamsfourthletter.
The celebrations have continued to grow and expand over the years. In 1783, as peace returned to the country following the Revolutionary War, Alexander Martin of North Carolina became the first governor to issue a state order to celebrate the 4th of July.
The Moravians of Salem took this into account and first celebrated the Fourth that year with religious services, music and a torchlight procession through the town.
Additional 4th of July Activities
Baseball, fireworks at High Point
The High Point Rockers baseball team will be hosting a fireworks show on Independence Day at Truist Point, 301 N. Elm St., High Point.
The Rockers take on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at 6:05 p.m. today, doors open at 5 p.m.
Fireworks will follow the game. Fans will receive a pair of 3D glasses to enhance the display.
Tickets start at $7 and are available at HighPointRockers.com.
The Salem Band will hold its annual Stars & Stripes concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Salem Square in Old Salem. Free entry.
There will be an Armed Forces Salute, featuring singer Mignon Dobbins, and Star & Stripes Forever will be performed. The Winston-Salem Pops Choir will be the musical guest.
There will also be the world premiere of an arrangement of the first impression of the Star Spangled Banner.
Pre-concert music begins at 6:45 p.m. Food vendors will be on hand. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. The rain date is Tuesday.
For more information, visit www.salemband.org.
Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101