What’s the deal with fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July? One might assume that the answers include: Americans like loud booming noises and explosions are fun, or maybe this is another one of those rituals invented by the Pagans along with everything else. We actually celebrate America’s Independence Day with fireworks because John Adams thought it was a fun idea.
By 1775 when British Parliament declared Massachusetts to be in rebellion, Adams was fully committed to the cause for American Independence. He frequently wrote to his wife Abigail about his impatience with the sluggish pace at which his fellow representatives would move toward what he believed to be America’s inevitable departure from Great Britain.
When the vote for American Independence was finally unanimous, Adams put pen to paper. In a letter dated July 3d to his wife Abigail one day before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Adams mused that July 2nd should be recognized “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
He was wrong about the date though correct about the fireworks. And by 1777, when the United States celebrated its first birthday, Boston and Philadelphia, where Adams lived and worked, respectively, both lit up the night with fireworks displays.