The Fourth of July is one of America’s biggest holidays, with celebrations including fireworks and parades across the USA.
The event in 1776 eventually led to the formation of the United States of America, and the original copy of the Declaration of Independence is housed in the National Archives in Washington DC.
July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.
But what are the origins of Independence Day and how is it celebrated? Here, we take a closer look.
What's the history behind it?
The tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution, when Americans broke away from being ruled by the British, who had been on the continent since the 16th Century.
At the time America was divided into 13 colonies; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Carolina and Georgia, with citizens paying tax to Britain.
On July 2, 1776, during the second year of the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), representatives from 13 North American colonies of the kingdom of Great Britain, known as Colonies' Second Continental Congress, voted to declare themselves independent from the crown, forming the United States of America.
Two days after the historic vote, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed - a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson was a prominent lawyer and planter from Virginia - and he went on to become the third president of the United States between 1801 and 1809.
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert L Livingston also comprised the committee that drafted the declaration.
The Declaration of Independence features the famous lines: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” and have “certain unalienable rights” – among them “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
However, the declaration also describes Native Americans as “merciless savages”and blames King George for inciting American slaves to insurrection.
In 1782 the British Parliament finally agreed to end all offensive operations in North America and the following year all parties signed the Treaty of Paris in which Great Britain agreed to recognise the sovereignty of the United States and formally end the war.
The events of July 4, 1776, went on to inspire colonial independence movements worldwide; in South America, Venezuela's 1811 declaration of independence echoed Mr Jefferson's text, announcing that the provinces of Venezuela “are, and ought to be […] free, sovereign, and independent states.”
In 1870, Independence Day was formally established as an official holiday by Congress, but workers weren't paid for that day. In 1938, it became a paid national holiday across the whole country.
Celebrations this year would be affected by the pandemic
Over 240 years later, July 4 is still celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
Bristol in Rhode Island has the nation’s longest-running Independence Day celebrations, with festivities taking place since 1785.
The festivities there start mid June and conclude with a 2.5 miles military parade on July 4, followed by a ball.
At Mr Jefferson's home in Virginia - Monticello - for over 50 years, a naturalisation ceremony is held on Independence Day, admitting people worldwide to become citizens of the United States.
Typically famous landmarks are also lit up in the patriotic colours of red, white and blue, and usually a large fireworks celebration is held at the White House, and Macy's fireworks in New York are famously screened across the country.
However, this year, due to coronavirus, celebrations will look a little different, with social distancing restrictions in place and many events cancelled due to gathering size restrictions and local public health guidance.
Fireworks celebrations from Massachusetts to Florida to California have been cancelled, and experts are advising people to watch the firework displays in their community from the safety of their car.
For those considering travelling to celebrate Independence Day, face masks should be worn and social distancing adhered to, with travellers being advised to check the level of Covid-19 at their destination.