Why do we celebrate July 4th with fireworks?

Amanda Bohn is a museum assistant in Phoenix and has been with Wells Fargo since 2006. She has a B.A. from Arizona State University. Originally from Wisconsin, she has been a resident of Arizona for 15 years. In her free time she likes do-it-yourself projects, sports, and all things history. (CR)

The day will be most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival…It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore. –John Adams, July 3, 1776

Amanda BohnFireworks have been a part of celebrations since they were first invented by the Chinese and then popularized in the West by the Italians. The earliest European settlers brought their love of fireworks to this country. Firings of black powder were used to celebrate holidays and to impress and intimidate the natives.

By the time of the American Revolution, fireworks had long played a part in celebrating important events.

It was natural, then, that not only John Adams but also many of his countrymen should think of fireworks when independence from England was declared.

The very first celebration of Independence Day was in 1777 (scroll down), six years before Americans knew whether the new nation would even survive the war. Fireworks were an important factor in igniting the population, to believe that they could indeed be their own nation.

In 1789, George Washington’s inauguration was accompanied by a beautiful display. Starting even in the late 18th century, politicians used firework displays to attract crowds to their speeches.

Fireworks have been with Americans since the nation’s very beginnings, and now more fireworks are ignited for the Fourth of July than for any other national celebration in the world.

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8 Responses to Why do we celebrate July 4th with fireworks?

  1. Jordan R. says:

    So why is the quotation dated July 3, 1776?

  2. Deb says:

    If you’re going to quote John Adams, don’t add your own words to it, and put the complete quote.
    “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
    John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776
    Adams Family Correspondence, 2:30

  3. Anonymous says:

    that is so cool!

  4. Nina says:

    i like flashy lights

  5. JERBEAR says:

    i need to know this right now

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