On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to adopt a resolution of independence, declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved.
While John Adams originally recognized July 2, 1776 as “the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” he envisioned future celebrations of the event. In a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, he wrote: “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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward for ever more.”
The National Archives celebrates Independence Day with musical performances, a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, and history-related family activities on July 4th, 2019 in Washington, DC. NARA Photo by Ted Chaffman.
As the trustee of our nation’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights—the National Archives and Records Administration has a long tradition of celebrating this national holiday in a special way. This year, with museums in Washington, DC, and at the Presidential Libraries closed, the National Archives celebrates the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in a new way—online.
Join us as we host a virtual Independence Day celebration on July 4, 2020, in partnership with the National Archives Foundation. The event will take place at 4 p.m. on @USNatArchives Facebook page and YouTube channel. Several hours of additional educational programming will be offered throughout the day.
The virtual July 4th Schedule will be as follows:
- 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST July 4th family programming including welcome remarks from Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, a discussion with Thomas Jefferson and other historical reenactors, including Abigail Adams, John Dunlap, and Dorothy Hancock. author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos will talk about their Ordinary People Change the World book series. Register here .
- 4:00 p.m. EST July 4th ceremony airs on @USNatArchives Facebook page and YouTube page. Tune in for the traditional reading ceremony, hosted and narrated by journalist Soledad O’Brien.
All July 4th activities are free and open to the public, but registration is required. See the July 4th schedule to register for a program and download activities and resources.
Wherever you are on July 4th, share your celebrations on social media using the hashtag #ArchivesJuly4. See more on National Archives News.
Engrossed Declaration of Independence. National Archives Identifier 1419123
Two hundred forty-four years ago, our founding fathers declared our independence and mutually pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Today, as in 1776, we face fear, uncertainty, and challenges to our lives, economy, and general welfare. Throughout our history, as a nation united, we have confronted and overcome such threats. Let us continue to stay united as we strive for a more perfect – and more healthy – union.
We can often take for granted our founding documents. I encourage all of us to take time during our Independence Day celebrations to read these documents and to pause and remember the difficult choices our nation’s Founders made and the meaning of these documents today.
- Engrossed Declaration of Independence
- Constitution of the United States
- Bill of Rights
- Film of the transfer of the Charters of Freedom from the Library of Congress to NARA
- Public Resolution directing the distribution of certain copies of the Declaration of Independence
- Papers of the Continental Congress
I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day!