Happy Independence Day!
As America celebrates her 243th birthday, families and friends are coming together to enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, patriotic fireworks, parades, and generally speaking, all things patriotic.
In America’s early days, however, such was not the case. A long-standing argument brewed among the Founders as to which day should be “Independence Day:” July 2, when the Declaration of Independence was proposed; or July 4, when the history-making document was signed.
The Revolutionary War did not reach the plains of Minnesota, but one soldier who fought under George Washington named Stephen Taylor is buried in Winona, Minnesota.
Taylor’s life remains a mystery, but it is known he volunteered in Massachusetts’ First Massachusetts Regiment in 1781. He served in the army for three years. After serving, he was honorably discharged at Westpoint in 1783. Seven years later, Taylor moved to New York, and later in his life, eventually made his way to the Gopher State.
The idea to mark the importance of Independence Day at all got a big boost after the victory of the War of 1812 when the Federalist Party and Democratic-Republicans political parties started having their own separate celebration. These events grew in popularity as major celebrations for people, and were celebrated by hosting all-day events featuring bonfires, concerts, parades and public canon firings – taking place on either July 2nd or the 4th.
It was a little more than a decade later – exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence – when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 – that the argument was settled once and for all.
It took Congress another 44 years to make Independence Day a federal holiday in 1870, and another 71 years for Congress to expand the grant to include people getting paid for their day off.
Nowadays, Independence Day – sometimes called the Fourth of July – is a booming industry. Americans will enjoy over 150 million hot dogs, 700 million pounds of chicken, and watch some 61,000 fireworks displays costing over $1 billion.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Battleground State News.