Illustration of fireworks on the National Mall (State Dept./D. Thompson)
(State Dept./D. Thompson)

Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4 because that’s when, in 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, eventually transforming 13 English colonies into the United States of America.

Whether by plan or by chance, a lot of other firsts happened on the Fourth of July. Here are a few:

Facts about significant July 4 events from 1781 to 1997 (State Dept./D. Thompson)
(State Dept./D. Thompson)