Celebrate July 4th with the National Archives!

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 Jeffrey Reed.

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, the National Archives marks the 245th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with our traditional Fourth of July program both online and in person! 

  • I will be providing welcoming remarks during the virtual programming, which will also include a variety of educational and family-friendly interactive programs with historical figures and Archives educators, as well as a special production of the traditional reading ceremony. 
  • Our in-person celebration will be held on Constitution Avenue and on the steps of the National Archives, complete with re-enactors, family-fun activities, music, and more! 

All July 4th activities are free and open to the public. 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. Learn more on National Archives News.

Engrossed Declaration of Independence. National Archives Identifier 1419123 

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.

I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day!