Greetings card for 4 July (color litho) by American School, (20th century); Private Collection; (add.info.: Greetings card for 4 July.  Postcard, early 20th century.); © Look and Learn; American

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave…

This year’s Fourth of July celebrations marks the 241st anniversary of the United States adopting the Declaration of Independence, which declared the thirteen American colonies as a new nation. From fireworks and barbecues to parades and bonfires,  we at Bridgeman Images would like to explore our archive for our most patriotic images.

The Mall on the fourth: Waiting for the Fireworks to Start, 1998 (oil on canvas) by Frank Wright (b.1932); 91.4x121.9 cm; The Classical Gallery, Virginia, USA; American, in copyright
The Mall on the fourth: Waiting for the Fireworks to Start, 1998 (oil on canvas) by Frank Wright (b.1932); 91.4×121.9 cm; The Classical Gallery, Virginia, USA; American, in copyright

The First 4th of July

Declaration of Independence of the 13 United States of America of 1776, 1823 (copper engraving) by American School, (19th century); Private Collection; American, out of copyright
Declaration of Independence of the 13 United States of America of 1776, 1823 (copper engraving) by American School, (19th century); Private Collection; American, out of copyright

A little known fact about the first Fourth of July: it is not actually the date America gained its independence! It was one July 2, 1776 that this nation of thirteen colonies officially became an independent nation. While the Declaration was approved by the newly formed Second Continental Congress on July 4th of that year, it was on the 2nd that Congress voted and approved a resolution of independence, proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, which declared the United States independent from Great Britain rule. The highly publicized Declaration of Independence, which is simply a statement explaining the decision to become an independent nation, was dated July 4, 1776, causing the American people to commemorate it’s new freedom on that date from there on out.

Signing the Declaration of Independence, 4th July 1776, c.1817 (oil on canvas) by John Trumbull (1756-1843); US Capitol Collection, Washington D.C., USA; (add.info.: signed on 4th July 1776; drafting committee in foreground: Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) presents document to John Hancock (1737-93); portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots;); Photo © Boltin Picture Library; American, out of copyright
Signing the Declaration of Independence, 4th July 1776, c.1817 (oil on canvas) by John Trumbull (1756-1843); US Capitol Collection, Washington D.C., USA; (add.info.: signed on 4th July 1776; drafting committee in foreground: Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) presents document to John Hancock (1737-93); portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots;); Photo © Boltin Picture Library; American, out of copyright

 

Celebrations

July 4th Fireworks (b/w photo); (add.info.: Hollywood, California: c. 1930 MGM actress Lilian Bond with an armload of fireworks for a Fourth of July celebration.); Underwood Archives/UIG ; out of copyright
July 4th Fireworks (b/w photo); (add.info.: Hollywood, California: c. 1930 MGM actress Lilian Bond with an armload of fireworks for a Fourth of July celebration.); Underwood Archives/UIG ; out of copyright

Since it’s in the sunny month of July, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. The Fourth is also a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (such as the postal service and federal courts) are closed on that day, as are many businesses, so many Americans are able to take advantage of the day’s celebrations. Many politicians take the time on this day to appear at public events to celebrate America’s history with their constituents.

Fireworks display over the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall (photo); (add.info.: The Mall, Washington, District of Columbia.); Paul Sutherland/National Geographic Creative; out of copyright
Fireworks display over the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall (photo); (add.info.: The Mall, Washington, District of Columbia.); Paul Sutherland/National Geographic Creative; out of copyright

A few of the most common celebrations on this holiday are picnics and barbecues and it is not uncommon for families a long weekend to gather with relatives or friends. Streets, shops, and houses are covered in red, white, and blue, decorations that show pride for their flag and country. Parades are often held in the morning, before family get-togethers, while fireworks displays occur in the evening after dark at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

A Fourth of July Grand Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC duting the 19th century, 1991 (oil on canvas) by Wright, Frank (b.1932); 121.9x243.8 cm; The Classical Gallery, Virginia, USA; (add.info.: celebration of the American Day of Independence;); American, in copyright
A Fourth of July Grand Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC during the 19th century, 1991 (oil on canvas) by Frank Wright (b.1932); 121.9×243.8 cm; The Classical Gallery, Virginia, USA; (add.info.: celebration of the American Day of Independence;); American, in copyright

We here at Bridgeman Images hope you enjoyed your celebrations of the 241st Independence Day, whether spent barbecuing at home or spending a lazy day by the ocean. Only 359 until the next American Independence Day!

Explore more

American patriotic images from our archive

Our other American blog posts spanning from the American Constitution to the American gangster

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