July 4th: History and celebrations

July 4th, 1776 was the day 13 British colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and formed a new nation. Learn about the history of the US from an American and a Brit. (Do you think we’ll agree?) We’ll also show you how we celebrate July 4th today.

You’ll hear why, in our opinions, we think:
– Americans wanted a divorce from Great Britain
– the founding fathers were treasonous/brave/far-sighted
– taxation without representation was the core issue (or not)

We’ll also describe how we celebrate today with things like parades, street parties and fireworks.
And along the way they’ll share some of their favourite (and easy) traditional recipes for a great July 4th party.

July 4th is Independence Day in the US.
And it’s a public holiday. So in this video we’ll look at what American’s are celebrating and how they celebrate it.
They’re celebrating leaving Great Britain.
Right.
So in this video you’ll hear our different opinions about the history.
And we’ll show you how we like to celebrate the holiday today.
This is going to be our very personal take on history.
Vicki’s British and I’m American so we’ll probably disagree.
Back in 1776, there was no United States. But down the East coast there were 13 British colonies.
Now, on July 4th 1776 – the 13 colonies declared independence from Great Britain and came together to become a new country.
So basically they committed treason. Treason is the crime where you’re disloyal to your country or its government.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
So the declaration of independence was basically a divorce document.
Yep.
So why did you want a divorce from us?
Well, you were making us pay taxes when we didn’t have any representatives in the British parliament. We had taxation with no representation.
OK, here’s the thing.
You didn’t stay in the colonies. You kept moving west and claiming more land, land where Native Americans were living, and land the French said they owned. You caused a war.
She means the French and Indian war. It happened earlier.
Yeah, and we helped you win it. And it cost money and the British taxpayers had to pay for it. And when we said, ‘Hey, Americans, can you contribute too’, you said ‘No, we’re not paying taxes.’
Well, you didn’t fight the war for us. You were just interested in trade and making money.
So the one key thing to remember about this is ‘taxation without representation’, and that was the cry going forward.
They had a lot of cries going forward.
A cry going forward is like a battle cry. It’s a phrase that a group of people use to encourage one another when they’re working and fighting together.
I mean I think they had quite a lot to complain about because you had Great Britain with King George and Lord North was the Prime Minister at the time, and in order to… to administer the colonies, you had to rely on boats, sailing boats. So if you needed a new law, or you needed to appoint someone new then you would have to put a letter on a ship, and wait for them to respond and then it would have to come back, so it was a kind of inefficient way, I guess, to govern.
Well, worse than that, there was a British governor in each of the thirteen colonies, not an American.
Well, you had a lot of local government though as well, and some of the people that the British governors were appointing were of the colonies.
Well right, they were British loyalists.
What? Hang on, that’s another thing, isn’t it. It wasn’t that all Americans felt one way. You were very divided. There were a lot of people who wanted to stay connected to Great Britain and actually, that’s what the Declaration of Independence is about. It’s a list of complaints about the British government and it’s designed to remind Americans what they were fighting for. It had to unite them.
So that was the job of the founding fathers.
You’ll hear that phrase a lot. The founding fathers. And they’re a group of men who included people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson…
And Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin.
From Philadelphia.
And they set up the government and created the government of the United States.
These men knew that what they were doing would be treason in Great Britain. It was really dangerous. They would be killed if the British caught them. The Founding fathers were very brave and far-sighted.
Far-sighted means they understood what might happen in the future
They thought ahead and planned for it. It was pretty far-sighted in the eighteenth century to say all men are created equal.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
And the rest is history.
We fought the British until 1781 and we won.
Thankfully those wars are all over. And now July 4th is an excuse for a great party.
We do have wonderful celebrations. We have parades in every town, every big city.
What is a parade?
Oh, a parade is groups of people who are performing as they march down the street. Sometimes there are high school bands. And there are fire trucks and firemen. In every town, in every city, there’s a parade of some kind.
Have you ever been in a parade?
Oh yes I have.
Really? I didn’t know this.
Well, when I was a young boy I was in the boy scouts, and we marched in parades in our city. We marched perfectly. We were terrific marchers.
OK. And then outside the cities, often there are fair grounds, aren’t there?
Oh yes, it’s a wonderful time to have amusement rides, and fun foods that you would eat?
Oh what?
Well we have funnel cakes. Funnel cakes are basically dough covered by confectioner’s sugar.
OK, I’ll tell you what else you have. Candy floss?
She means cotton candy.
OK, but you would eat that?
I certainly would.
And what about snow cones. I don’t know what they are.
Oh, well, snow cones are crushed ice dipped in a flavored syrup of some kind.
So are they sorbets?
No, not at all. It’s just crushed ice dipped in syrup.
Oh right. OK.
You have to have cold drinks on July 4th because it’s really hot.
This is one of our favourites.
The trick is to freeze cubes of water melon.
And then you put them in here with some fruit juice and whizz them up.
Cheers.
Cheers.
You can also make that drink with lime juice and make water melon margaritas.
Delicious.
So for us in Philadelphia, there’s a big parade in the morning, and then there’s a big party on the Parkway.
The Parkway (the Benjamin Franklin Parkway) runs from City Hall all the way to the Art Museum. It’s a very wide boulevard, modelled partly after the Champs Elysees in Paris.
There are lots of street vendors. Vendors are people who sell things. So they might sell food or drinks, and other stuff.
Basically it’s about a lot of people having a lot of fun.
There’s usually some great dancing that’s going on. You get a lot of local performers there. And then in the evening, in front of the Art Museum, they have famous artists performing in concerts.
Some of them included Pit Bull last year, Nicki Minaj.
Yes.
Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and it’s all for free.
And back in the day they had people like the Beach Boys.
The Isley Brothers.
And we’ve been out there and people are dancing in the streets, we” we’ve been dancing in the streets.
It’s a lot of fun.
But not this year.
Because of the corona virus, the celebrations are happening online.
Normally we have friends around for a party and we cook a lot of food.
Yes. The traditional food, I think, is hot dogs and hamburgers.
You got it.
And Jay makes lots of hamburgers. You make a big batch.
A batch is a large amount of food that’s produced at one time.
What is your secret ingredient?
Ah, the secret ingredient is… don’t tell anybody, OK? The secret ingredient is a little teriyaki sauce, a little bit of garlic powder, and a little bit of oREGano, or as you would say, oreGAno.
That’s right. And then I take them up to the roof deck and cook them on the grill.
And I make lots of salads, so green salads, tomato salads, coleslaw.
And don’t forget my favorite.
Builder’s salad.
Builders salad. What’s in a builder’s salad.
We call it a builder’s salad. I don’t know why. Basically it’s just all the vegetables you can find in your fridge, and you chop them up and you mix them with mayonnaise and it’s lovely.
Except we use vegan mayonnaise with the vegetables, so I can eat it too.
But the big, big, big finale of July 4th is fireworks, right?
Spectacular.
The Art Museum’s just over there. They have a hige fireworks display and we can see it from here.
This year, unfortunately, there’ll be no fireworks.
No.
But we can have some sparklers.
On our deck. Happy July 4th.
Happy fourth.
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