The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is a day we honor the United States of America.

But do you know the history of the day we celebrate our country?

History.com says Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence on June 7, 1776. The debate that followed was so intense that Congress appointed a five-man committee (Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Conneticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York) to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776.

The first commemoration of Independence Day was in 1777 in Philadelphia, while the country was still at war. The tradition of public celebration became more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the U.S. again fought Great Britain again. Congress made July 4 a federal holiday in 1970 and granted all federal employees a paid holiday in 1941.

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Here are a couple of interesting facts:

• Three U.S. Presidents died on July 4. Both Thomas Jefferson, the third president, and John Adams, second president, died on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1826. The last words of Adams, who died first, are reported to have been, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, died in 1831.

• Calvin Coolidge, who was the 30th U.S. president from 1923 to 1929, was born July 4, 1872.

Whether you plan to celebrate Independence Day at the historical Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial, listening to music at the Bluegill Music Festival at Rend Lake, visiting with friends at the Red, White and Brews Celebration at Walker's Bluff or Goreville Freedom Fest, watching motorcycle races at Du Quoin State Fairground or in your own backyard, we wish you a very happy 4th!

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