American FlagIn 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired, once at morning and again  evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.

In 1778, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.

In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.

In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.

In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work was titled “The Psalm of Joy”.

In 1791 the first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred.

In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.

In 1931, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday. The residents of Vicksburg, Mississippi, celebrated Independence Day for the first time since July 4, 1863, when the Siege of Vicksburg ended with a Union victory during the American Civil War.