The first officially celebrated Independence Day in 1777 was marked in a way that would be very familiar to most modern Americans. There was an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts were made and 13-gun salutes fired. There were speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
A year earlier, founding father John Adams had written to his wife Abigail, “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”