On Monday, Americans will gather to celebrate Independence Day, which marks an event of massive historical significance for the country. These are the origins America's biggest holiday.
What is it?
4 July is the most significant national holiday in the United States. It celebrates the Declaration of Independence, adopted on 4 July, 1776. The Thirteen Colonies of America declared themselves to be states and no longer part of the British Empire, though the revolutionary war continued for some time after.
What’s the story behind it?
The original United States of America was made up of a collection of East Coast states known as the Thirteen Colonies. These were: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
These mainly agricultural colonies were run by the British - who had been present on the continent since 1587 - and exploited for their resources, in particular tobacco.
While the relationship between the settlers and British was once amicable, tensions began to escalate over British laws and taxes, such as the Sugar Act, driven by British financial needs. There was also a growing sense of nationalism in the country.
From 1765, some settlers began to demand ‘no taxation without representation’, calling for their voice to be heard in the British parliament.
This tension sometimes erupted into fighting and acts of dissent, such as the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The event was a protest against the Tea Act, legislation which gave the British East India Company a monopoly on sales of tea in the Thirteen Colonies.
Further ill feeling was caused by the Coercive Acts – which became known as the ‘Intolerable Acts’ to American Patriots – which were implemented in response to the Boston Tea Party. The laws took power away from semi-autonomous Massachusetts.
Google celebrates US Independence Day with an interactive doodle
Google celebrates US Independence Day with an interactive doodle
Search engine giant Google has marked US Independence Day in the with an interactive Google Doodle.
Google has marked the beginning of the 100th Tour de France with an animated Google Doodle.
The Google Doodle celebrating the work of Spanish Architect Antoni Gaudi
The Google Doodle celebrating the summer solstice
The Google doodle celebrates American children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who would have been 85 today
5 June 2013: Google Doodle celebrates Thomas Chippendale's 295th birthday
Google's Doodle commemorates Julius Richard Petri
Today's Google Doodle celebrates train model maker Frank Hornby
23 April 2013: Google's Doodle for Saint George's Day
22 April 2013: Google's Doodle for Earth Day 2013
The Google doodle marks the 366th birthday of Maria Sibylla Merians
Douglas Adams Google doodle
The International Women's Day Google Doodle.
On 11/11/12 Google doodle celebrates 125 years of LS Lowry
September 8, 2012: One for the Trekkies, this Google Doodle is interactive and takes the viewer through a series of scenes that feature in the series, taking them to another planet and encountering strange creatures. It celebrated the 46th anniversary of Star Trek's first broadcast
Edward Gorey is the subject of today's Google doodle
St Andrew's Day Google Doodle
June 23, 2012: This interactive, coded Doodle marked Alan Turing's 100th birthday. Turing invented the Turing Machine way before computers came along, and is regarded as one of the twentieth century's greatest mathematicians
May 23, 2012: Robert Moog created the electronic analog Moog Synthesizer in the 1960s - a tool still used by many musicians today. This Doodle celebrates Moog's 78th birthday
Google created a 'doodle' celebrating what would have been the 101st birthday of origami master Akira Yoshizawa on 14 March 2012.
Feb 7, 2012: Google created an homage to Charles Dickens on his 200th birthday. There are some clearly recognisable characters in this Doodle, which was created with the help of Dickens fans
A screenshot of Google's Alexander Calder doodle
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This Google doodle in tribute to Giorgio Vasari's 500th birthday appeared on the search engine's home page in Italy on 30th July 2011.
English architect Sir George Gilbert Scott's 200th Birthday was celebrated with this Google doodle on 13th July 2011.
June 9, 2011: This interactive guitar was inspired by Les Paul, arguably one of the most famous guitar developer, on what would have been his 96th birthday
May 21, 2010: This Doodle was hugely popular and it's not hard to see why. Fans of the old Pac-Man game could play this interactive version around the Google logo, in celebration of its 30th birthday
April 29, 2011: The Royal Wedding Doodle was 'challenging' as the buildings had to be in the shape of the logo. This, of course, was displayed on Google the same day that Prince William and Kate Middleton got married
Feb 8, 2011: Jules Vernes' 183rd birthday Doodle was interactive , where the lever could be moved to change the view in the porthole windows. It was inspired by his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
March 29, 2005: Instantly recognisable as an homage to Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, this Doodle highlighted what would have been Van Gogh's 152nd birthday
April 14 2005: This Da Vinci-inspired Doodle celebrated the famous artist, inventor and all-round renaissance man's 533rd birthday
August 30, 1998: Where it all began. This Doodle was dedicated to the Burning Man Festival in 1998 and was the first Doodle
In response to these factors, Continental Congresses – a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies – were convened. At the second meeting, in 1775, a war of independence against Britain was declared.
The next year, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 representatives of thirteen self-styled states (previously the Thirteen Colonies). The signatories included future president Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
The conflict continued until the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war in favour of an independent America.
How has it been celebrated through history?
Fireworks, speeches, parties, feasts and general celebrations have marked the day since the 18th century. In Bristol, Rhode Island, there was a salute of 13 gunshots in the morning and evening in 1777. The town has held the nation's longest running Independence Day celebration.
In 1778, George Washington, then a general in the revolutionary army, issued his troops with a double rum ration.
The first recorded music commemorating independence was the ‘Pslam of Joy’, written by Johann Friedrich Peter in Salem, North Carolina.
Many towns and cities across the US have their own annual celebrations.
How has the government marked it?
Congress made the day an unpaid national holiday for federal workers in 1870, and in 1938 it became a paid holiday across the country. Government officials also take part in celebratory functions and make speeches.
How do people celebrate it today?
Firework displays and parties are the most well-known activities associated with Independence Day. All major cities have fireworks displays and there is also one given by the White House. As a national holiday, it also serves as an occasion for reunions and vacations.