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America Celebrates Independence Day

  • VOA News

Two people sit on the steps of Brooklyn's Borough Hall where a huge American flag was displayed, Thursday, July 3, 2014.

Two people sit on the steps of Brooklyn's Borough Hall where a huge American flag was displayed, Thursday, July 3, 2014.

Across the United States Friday, Americans celebrate the 238th anniversary of their country's independence from Britain with parades, picnics, fireworks, rodeos and concerts.

The 4th of July festivities in Washington include re-enactors portraying historical figures, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, who will read the Declaration of Independence.

There will be a concert and fireworks on the National Mall Friday night. The concert will feature Frankie Valli, Patti Labelle, Michael McDonald, the Muppets and the National Symphony Orchestra.

However, the weather may dampen the plans of millions of Americans as Hurricane Arthur makes its way up the East Coast.

Ironically, the Declaration of Independence was drafted by a slave owner - 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson, who later became the third U.S. president.

At the beginning of the Declaration, Jefferson famously wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Jefferson was not the only slave owner to sign the document. About one third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, from both the North and the South, owned or had owned slaves. George Washington, the first U.S. president, owned over 100. Adams - the second president and Washington's vice president - was vehemently opposed to slavery.

The issue was not settled until the Civil War ended nearly 80 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

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