July 4, also known as Independence Day, celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The document, which declared America’s independence from Great Britain, was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by the Continental Congress.
John Adams believed the holiday would be celebrated July 2, the day Congress “voted in favor of independence.” (Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826.)
July 4 became a national holiday nearly 100 years after the Declaration was signed, in 1870.
Every July 4, at 12 p.m., the nation’s military bases participate in a 50-gun salute — one for each state.