Ever wondered why it’s a tradition to set off explosions of light in the sky on Independence Day? It’s certainly a day for celebration, but why fireworks? Well, the 4th of July history actually involves fireworks and you can thank famous historian John Adams for it.
During the first months of the Revolutionary War, after the 13 colonies had all voted in favor of independence from Britain, Congress began to write what became the Declaration of Independence. Before it was even finished and signed, an enthusiastic John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife stating how the occasion of America’s freedom should be celebrated. It read:
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 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 forever more.”
Adams was off by a few days, but the Fourth of July was most certainly celebrated in a way he would have liked.
The first organized Fourth of July fireworks were set off in 1777 in Pennsylvania and Boston (Adam’s hometown) one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported that “the evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.”
Here’s where to catch the fireworks locally: