BackStory - Independence Daze: A History of July 4th

BackStory - Independence Daze: A History of July 4th

Mon, 07/04/2011 - 12:00pm

Photo credit: CR Hayball 

A look at the evolution of the 4th of July from obscure beginnings to an explosion of fireworks.

AM1370/FM-HD91.5-2 celebrates Independence Day with a special BackStory presentations, Independence Daze: A History of July 4th, airing Monday, July 4 at 12 p.m., and again at 10 p.m. Historians Pauline Maier, David Blight and July 4th chronicler James Heintze analyze the origins of this patriotic celebration and reveal the holiday’s radical roots, and look how the Declaration’s meaning has changed over time. They also consider how the Declaration’s messages about liberty and equality have been embraced by the descendents of slaves. And as always, they take calls from BackStory listeners looking to the past to understand the America of today.

Everybody knows that July Fourth celebrates our nation’s beginnings. But for the first 94 years of our existence, the Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. The Declaration of Independence itself sat untended in a dusty archive for 150 years. So how did Independence Day become the holiest day on our secular calendar? And why do we observe it with hot dogs, fireworks and mattress sales?

BackStory is a public radio program that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. On each show, renowned U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths. Over the course of the hour, they are joined by fellow historians, people in the news, and callers interested in exploring the roots of what’s going on today. Together, they drill down to colonial times and earlier, revealing the connections (and disconnections) between past and present.