As per John Adams, July 4th was meant to be celebrated with pomp and an all-out display of fireworks and the boom of cannons.
On July 3, 1776, Adams wrote in a letter to his wife Abigail Adams, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized 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.”
Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg, where the Declaration was read in the streets days after being signed, takes that sentiment wholeheartedly. The day at the living museum will offer readings of the Declaration, ax-throwing, musket- and cannon-firing. “When we want to fire a cannon, we can,” said Bill Schermerhorn, creative director of signature events. The evening will feature a procession, concert, and fireworks launched from behind the Governor’s Palace. ColonialWilliamsburg.com