Samuel Francis Smith's "My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty," is still a popular tune sung particularly on one day out of the year, July 4.
The traditions of the Fourth of July began centuries ago when the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. More than a year after the American Revolutionary War began, Congress voted on July 2, 1776, declaring the 13 colonies as independent states and no longer apart of the British Empire.
John Adams drew up a resolution earlier that year, and then a committee made up of five people, including Thomas Jefferson, drafted the formal declaration. The day before the declaration was signed, Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, explaining his aspirations for how the American people should commemorate Independence Day.
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
To this day, Adams' predictions of how this holiday should be celebrated are upheld. Red, white and blue streamers decorate storefront windows, American flags wave in the wind, the smell of BBQ swarms the air, festivals are jammed-packed with patriotic supporters and children sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy." And of course, what everyone waits for as the sun slowly disappears into the summer heat is the over-the-top firework show.
However July 4 is celebrated, people all across the nation are united on this one day, because this day started the new beginning that has led this country to where it is today. For Louisianians, this day is also significant because the Louisiana Purchase, or Vente de la Louisiane, was announced. The Louisiana territory encompassed 15 of the current states in the U.S. and two Canadian provinces, and was purchased from France for $15 million, which would be $233 million today. The U.S. originally only intended to purchase New Orleans and surrounding lands, but after a slave rebellion in Haiti and an approaching war with England, France decided to sell the entire territory.
Other interesting facts about July 4 include Nathaniel Hawthorne, American writer, was born in 1804, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865, France offered the Statue of Liberty to the U.S. in 1886 and Jefferson and Adams, both U.S. presidents, died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1826.