The Fourth of July not only marks the midway mark of summer, but it is also the day each year that we celebrate our country’s gaining its independence from England. Along with family gatherings and backyard cookouts, there is always some sort of fireworks display to close out the holiday.
But, how many actually know the real reason behind how the setting off of fireworks began, or why it continues to this day. The simple explanation is—we can thank the famous historian John Adams himself.
In the days before the Declaration of Independence was even officially signed, John Adams penned a letter to his wife.
In that letter, he stated that the occasion of the signing should be celebrated with games, sports, bonfires, and illuminations of such magnitude that they would be visible from one end of the Continent to the other—from that time forward and forever. And, so it became.
The very first Fourth of July fireworks celebration took place in 1777, just one year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in both Pennsylvania and Boston.
One of the newspapers of the time, The Pennsylvania Evening Post, reported: “the evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Boston’s unique history plays a part in the fact that it still has one of the most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks displays to this day.
Fireworks started becoming available to the general public in 1783, and as such the skies became more and more brightly illuminated on the Fourth. They were the perfect way to celebrate America’s freedom, year after year since, what with their loud bangs and bright, vivid colors.
Over the last decades, each year the presentations get more and more elaborate, and we are sure to see yet another spectacular display this July 4th as well.