The John Adams Fourth of July Falls On July 2
On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. 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 forever more.
Adams assumed the Independence Day festivities would take place on July 2, the date when Congress passed the Lee Resolution declaring independence from England.1 I bet he feels silly now.
Chicago’s Fourth of July Falls On July 3
As I discovered the proverbial day late when I first moved to Chicago, its official municipal Independence Day fireworks show is traditionally held on July 3rd.2 The ostensible reason is that the American Legion had begun holding July Fourth fireworks in Chicago since the Century of Progress World’s Fair in 1933 so the City chose to add a day of celebration on the 3rd rather than conflict with the American Legion on the Fourth.
My own belief is that holding Independence Day fireworks on July 3rd allows Chicago to devote July 4th to the ridicule of the thousands of folks who show up every year to watch the fireworks 24 hours after the fact.
Note: Originally posted July 3, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com