Why Do We Celebrate the 4th of July? 

Why do we celebrate the 4th of July with such enthusiasm and excitement in the United States? Short of Christmas, no holiday looms quite as large in the American imagination as the 4th of July. 

 Indeed, this remarkable holiday has been the subject of films, music, and art for generations; as a time of observance, the Fourth symbolizes the height of summer in the United States; its celebrations never fail to evoke a deep love for the country and a deep sense of patriotism.

A Deeply Meaningful Occasion

 And nothing quite symbolizes the fun of July 4th quite like fireworks. When most of us imagine the 4th of July celebrations, we tend to picture fireworks bursting in the sky and illuminating the night around us. 

 But how exactly did this memorable holiday begin? 

Forging a More Equitable Path

 The truth is that July 4th represents the founding ethos of America as a nation. On July 4th, 1776, the Founding Fathers declared American independence from Britain and King George III’s rule. 

 Even with the military know-how of early American military leaders, this decisive break from a powerful king was by no means a guaranteed outcome; indeed, had the Revolutionary War failed in earnest, the Founding Fathers would have been treated as treasonous rebels by King George. 

 In a sense, a bid for independence from Britain was a huge gamble on individuals such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. 

The Founding Fathers understood that their lives and fortunes were fiercely connected to the outcome of the war. Thus, for the Founding Fathers to lose to Britain would have renounced everything, including life itself.

What the Founding Fathers Fought For

 But what did independence from Britain signify to the Founding Fathers exactly? What separates America, the colony of England, from America, the independent nation? Why does July 4th symbolize this difference more than 200 years from the original conflict?

 To understand the American concept of independence, it is important to understand what it meant for Americans to be British citizens rather than the citizens of a sovereign nation. 

 To this day, for example, Britain is very much a monarchy despite its status as a constitutional democracy: As they have for thousands of years, British citizens pay allegiance to a king or queen. Moreover, Britain is still home to a landed aristocracy. 

Life Under the Nobility

 These nobles still own a considerable portion of the land in Britain and are known by titles such as Earl or Duke or Baron. Below the nobles on the social scale are life peers and knights. However, these last individuals are still technically “commoners” like the everyday citizenry of Britain, and they still hold considerable power in a nation where class divisions are rife. 

 The Founding Fathers saw many problems with such a system. Because they were subjects of the King before gaining independence, figures such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were ruled by an individual who cared little for their well-being or happiness. 

 Yet the King was at the top of the social scale; his word was the law. Anyone who rebelled against King George faced serious consequences. 

 While the King showed little concern for the American colonists, however, he showed enormous concern for their money. “Taxation without representation” was the norm in Colonial America; George III imposed enormous tax burdens on his American subjects.

 For George III, America was something of a cash cow. Once George realized that he could fund the lavish lifestyles of the British aristocracy by levying great fortunes from American colonists, it was not long before tensions rose to a boiling point. 

Taxation Without Representation

 In fact, issues surrounding tax burdens on colonists bothered the Founding Fathers to no end. In their minds, the colonists in America took all the risks in developing the land of the American colonies while the Monarchy received all of the rewards of American agricultural development. 

 But unfair taxation policies were not the only issues that the Founding Fathers criticized. Figures like Thomas Jefferson also saw much to despise about the rigid British class system: For America as an independent nation, Jefferson envisaged a “natural aristocracy” defined by merit rather than by chance of birth. 

The Unique Social Structure of the United States

 This is why America is still very unique in terms of its social structure. To a great degree, independence from Britain in 1776 meant independence from the British social order. 

 For example, Section 9 of Article 1 of the American Constitution explicitly prohibits American citizens from taking on titles of nobility. Moreover, while a democratically elected figure in the form of the President holds a significant amount of power in the United States, no king has ever ruled here in the nearly 250 years since the nation’s founding. 

Finding Inspiration in Independence

 So why do we celebrate the 4th of July with such excitement each year? It is because Independence Day represents a particularly American form of freedom. The fireworks we let off to welcome in the holiday still symbolize the cannon-fire of the Revolutionary War and commemorate the lives of those who gave everything in the cause of freedom. 

 The outcome of the Revolutionary War still gives us much to celebrate: The next time you hear fireworks go off on the Fourth, remember that we are celebrating the efforts of individuals like Jefferson and Washington. Because of their work and tireless commitment to freedom, we live in a country where each person is judged on their ability rather than on the circumstances of their birth. 

Discovering Equality

 In the United States, in other words, a person is free to determine their future. A person does not have to be a duke or a king to rise to the top of society here; additionally, not being born to a title or great landholdings will not prohibit an American citizen from achieving their full potential. 

 For that, we should all take a moment to be grateful for the efforts of the Founding Fathers on the 4th of July. Through their efforts, these remarkable individuals created the first true democracy in the history of the world. 

 And of course, be sure to pick up a supply of great fireworks for this year’s celebrations and help make this the best Fourth ever!