4 July 1776 – John Hancock, President of Congress, signs the Declaration of Independence. As the document had been voted on and approved his signature was the only one required. This copy of the Declaration has been lost, possibly destroyed from the process of copying it for distribution among the fledgling US. These copies are the known as the Dunlap broadsides, after the printer who made them. It is estimated that around 200 were made, with one being sent to Britain and General George Washington would read it to his troops on the 9th of July. The famous hand written Declaration of Independence, which is held on display in the National Archives, was not signed till 2 August 1776.
4 July 1785– The Bristol Fourth of July Parade, in Rhode Island, is the longest continuously running 4th of July celebration. Festivities begin on Flag Day, 14 June, and reach their climax on 4 July. The parade held on Independence Day is the oldest annual parade in the US. The event has given the city of Bristol the nickname “America’s most patriotic town”. While the parade has been canceled several times, celebrations have been held on every 4th of July.
4 July 1804 – Lewis and Clark, of the Corps of Discovery, would hold the first 4th of July celebrations west of the Mississippi. They would start the day with a shot from the bow gun on their boat and end it with one as well. An extra ration of whiskey was issued to the expeditions men as in celebration.
4 July– At all capable military bases, a salute of of one gun per state is fired. This “Salute to the Union” was defined in 1810, when there were only 17 states.