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Article 1 (June 2018): How July 4th became America's birthday
June 28, 2018July 4, 2018 marks 242 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Before the Declaration, 13 colonies existed under the rule of England's King George III. There had been growing unrest, particularly because the King levied taxes on the colonists, who had no political representation to the King or Parliament. When unrest became open rebellion, King George sent in troops.
In 1774, the colonies sent delegates to Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress. After trying to work out differences with England, the colonies formed the Second Continental Congress in May of 1776. The delegates determined that further negotiations with England were hopeless.
On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress.
On July 4, nine colonies voted in favor of the Declaration. Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted against it, Delaware was undecided, and New York abstained. But the Declaration was approved.
John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. It is said that he signed his name "with a great flourish" so "King George can read that without spectacles!"
By the 1800s, parades, picnics, and fireworks were firmly established as part of America's Independence Day traditions.
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