U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are hosting a Fourth of July barbecue for military families on the South Lawn of the White House Monday afternoon. Later in the day, they will watch the Independence Day fireworks display at the National Mall.
The Fourth of July may be the most patriotic day on the U.S. calendar. Independence Day celebrates the decision by the 13 original colonies to renounce British rule and form the United States. However, that decision did not happen on July 4.
Representatives of the colonies actually voted for independence on July 2, 1776. Two days later, they approved the Declaration of Independence, a document that explained the vote. Many believed the country should celebrate on July 2, the anniversary of the vote. However, copies of the declaration were so widely circulated that July 4 became the day to remember.
Modern Fourth of July celebrations include parades, picnics, political speeches and fireworks.
However, the enslavement of Black people was widely practiced within the colonies while the founding fathers were working to gain their own independence from Britain.
What the colonists wanted for themselves, they apparently did not believe their slaves were entitled to as well, even though the Declaration includes this passage:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
America has been struggling with that inconsistency ever since.