The Fourth of July and the evolution of fireworks!

241 years of fireworks

In 1776, John Adams wrote the following passage about the signing of the Declaration of Independence in a letter to his wife:

This day will be most memorable in the history of America," he predicted. "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival... It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade... bonfires and illuminations [fireworks]... from one end of this content to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

And since 1777, Americans have filled the Fourth of July sky with just such pomp and illumination.

But the history of fireworks began long before the United States' independence from Great Britain. This article from the Smithsonian Science Education Center contains the fascinating details.

view the full text of the Smithsonian blog article
A hand-color etching of fireworks over the River Thames in 1797, artist unknown. Click the image to view the full text of the Smithsonian blog article.

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