History of the 4th of July: Crash Course US History Special

Hi, I’m John Green,
this is Crash Course US History, and today we’re gonna talk about July 4th, which in the United States is known
as Independence Day. This is the day that Americans celebrate our Independence from Great Britain
by doing what we do best: blowing stuff up, offering significant
discounts on mattresses, driving long distances for uncomfortable family interactions, and eating a lot of grilled meat. [intro music] Right, so the story goes that the founders
of this nation signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776, parting ways with King George
to found the freest, finest nation on the face of the Earth. [Libertage: America: It’s our birthday!] Yeah, except the continental congress actually
approved a resolution of independence on July 2nd. The Lee Resolution was proposed by Richard
Henry Lee of Virginia in June of 1776, and was a simple legal
declaration of separation from England. John Adams got so excited about it that he
wrote to his wife Abigail, The second day of July 1776 will be the most
memorable epic 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,
with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent
to the other, from this time forward forevermore. So what happened on the fourth? Well, not that much, actually. The Declaration of Independence was the formal
announcement of independence and its text was approved on July 4th 1776. The fancy parchment version with all the pretty
calligraphy wouldn’t get drawn up until July 19th, and most members of the Congress signed
the Declaration on August 2nd. Adams may have been wrong about the date,
but he was definitely right about the celebration. Americans started celebrating the 4th of July
as early as 1777, and, as Adams predicted, the holiday was observed with feasts, 13 gun
salutes, and fireworks. Why don’t we call them illuminations anymore,
Stan? Y’know, people can say, like, “oh, we put
a man on the moon and we can refrigerate our meat now” but I miss the old days! Anyway, in 1778 George Washington celebrated
the Fourth by giving his soldiers a double ration of rum, and also there was much more
shooting than usual. But while the people celebrated the anniversary
from the beginning, the federal government took its sweet time in formalizing the holiday. Independence day became an unpaid holiday
for federal employees in 1870 and became a paid day off in 1938. 4th of July observances have evolved over
the years, but they generally involve patriotic displays,
including decorations, fire, and explosives. Essentially, we celebrate our independence
by having a one-day fake war each summer. Huzzah!
[pops party popper] Aw, freedom-tenitis. Early observances were
marked by huge bonfires, but the litigious nature of modern American society has greatly reduced the number of bonfires. However, we still have a lot of fireworks
on the 4th of July. Many cities and towns across the country sponsor
fireworks displays on the Fourth; New York’s fireworks display is the largest in the nation. Despite the grandeur of these officially sanctioned
displays, many, many individuals across the nation feel the need to blow stuff up on their
own in their yards, because, y’know, they have all of their fingers and that seems like too many. Many states have restricted the sale and personal
use of fireworks freedom haters! but would-be patriots find their way to marginal neighborhoods every year to buy fireworks out of the backs of vans. In my neighborhood, these personal pyrotechnic
celebrations started about mid-May and continue well into August, causing my dog to have a
very stressful summer. John Adams’s prediction about gunfire holds
true as well. On most military bases, 50 gunshots — one
for each state — are fired at noon on July 4th as a salute to the Union. And in Stan’s neighborhood, where you go to
buy the fireworks out of the backs of vans, celebratory gunfire is common throughout the
year. Here is an actual bullet hole in Stan’s actual
window. Stan, can we get the Libertage again? [Libertage: America – seriously, a bullet
came into my house] In the 19th century, many ex-presidents celebrated
the 4th of July by dying. Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died
July 4th 1826, and James Madison died on the 4th of July in 1831. Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge was born on July
4th 1876, but as he was never demonstrably alive, no one really cares that much. Finally, lest we forget, Americans also celebrate
the 4th of July by eating. Millions of Americans host cook-outs to celebrate
independence, and the greatest spectacle in professional sports happens every year on the 4th of July. I am referring of course to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The current world record is 68 HDBs, hot dogs
and buns, in ten minutes. That means the world record holder, Joey Chestnut,
consumed about 28,500 calories in ten minutes, but don’t worry — he threw it up shortly
thereafter. So happy 4th of July from all of us here at
Crash Course. We may not celebrate American independence
on the right day, but I would argue that, in spite of it all, it’s still worth celebrating. Thanks for watching; I’ll see you next week. [pops party popper]
Boop! Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller. The script supervisor is Meredith Danko. Our associate producer is Danica Johnson. Today’s show was written by Stan. And our graphics team is Thought Cafe. Every week, there’s a new caption for the
Libertage. If you’d like to suggest one, you can do so
in comments, where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thank you for watching Crash Course, and as
we say in my home town, don’t forget to be awesome.

Comments 20

  • July 2nd 2019, anybody?

  • watching this on July 2nd 2019

  • Thanks Mr. Green for explaining history of American Independence in so much detail and you made it so interesting…Happy independence day USA

  • This video is cool I like learning videos

  • I thought Americans ate a lot of grilled meat all the time? 🤷‍♀️

  • How come when England took over Ireland You backed the English? Selective freedom is not freedom !

  • Your voice is like finger nails on a chalk board

  • The 4th of July represents our independence, our independence from what. I'm not feeling independent.

  • Who’s watching this in July 4th? 💙💙

  • Actually Adam's staunchly opposed the celebration of Independence Day on the 4th. When he made that statement, we was referring only to what he thought should take place on July 2nd. He purposely avoided and ever protested against July 4th celebrations.

  • Bro his teeth are fuqked

  • Why didn’t he mention what happened to the native americans

  • but if you stuck with us you might have actually had healthcare and a decent education lol oh well at least you got fireworks

  • We dont have 4th July in Denmmark Instead we have something that we Call *Sanghans aften *Where we sit around a Bon fire and Burn a Hand made Witch the reasson Why we do this is Because in the Old days very Old days in Dennmark Womans Would be Burned on a huge Camp fire Due to our King at the time thought that they wer Witches Yea dumb I know 😐 but that is how it was in the old days

  • This video is perhaps Crash Course's BIGGEST FAIL.

    1:25 – "So what happened on the 4th? Well not that much, actually."

    4:45 – "We may not celebrate American independence on the right day…"

    You missed the most basic point about what happened in that month of 1776:

    – America's declaration of independence, and

    – THE Declaration of Independence…

    …are 2 distinct things. One happened on July 2nd. And the other happened on July 4th. The first event was when the Colonists asserted their independence from Great Britain. And the second event was the document which explained the reasons why Congress did the first event.

    And the reason why American Independence is celebrated on the 4th of July is because it was understood that what happened in the second event WAS GREATER than what happened in the first event. Our parties happen on the 4th because of the power behind Thomas Jefferson's words:

    – All men are created equal,

    – unalienable Rights [including] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    These were the words that would sweep across the globe, toppling kings and queens in country after country, establishing the order that governments are there to serve the people. NOT that the people are there to serve the government.

    These words assert that there is no king, no queen, no princess, no prince, no baron, no duke, etc, who is inherently more valuable than any subject underneath such royalty. And that it is improper to have a government structured so that anyone at all is a subject to anyone in the government. That the standard order of the day was an inversion of the natural order. In Jefferson's words, this was explained:

    – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

    87 years later, we had a president who clarified the significance of those words. That what happened on July 4th was the establishment of:

    – government of the people, by the people, for the people

    This is a concept which has revolutionized the entirety of Planet Earth. The Shot Heard Round The World was not from a musket in Lexington nor Concord. Those are shots that resonated across the American Colonies. The one that rang out like a tsunami that washed over the whole globe was that stroke of Jefferson's pen. The message was that all of these previous governments had it backwards, like an upside down pyramid. Having a monarch at its base is an unnatural order. It is the people who consent to be governed, and the purpose of government is for them.

    And THIS is why we celebrate the 4th of July.

    And it is not merely a celebration which marks the independence of the peoples in one country. It is a celebration which marks the liberation of all of humanity from all governments which had oppressed its people in this way. The USA was just the first country in which this happened.

    You cannot do an explanation of the Fourth of July without explaining what the Shot Heard Round The World really means. It was the start of a brand new thing which revolutionized our whole planet. Contrast with…

    John Green: "Well not that much, actually."

    This video is returned with an F. I'm a huge fan of CrashCourse. But you all missed the boat entirely here. And seeing how this is such an important topic, upon which the revolutions which happened in so many other countries rests, I recommend redoing this video. Perhaps for 2020 next year.

  • My mom's birthday is on 4th of july!😊😊.

  • The right day is argueable

  • Why no mention of Frederick Douglass?

  • Actually, EPCOT has a show called "Illuminations" that includes fireworks!

  • I'm not from America so yeah.

  • In the UK we have bombfirenight on the 5th November

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