Children’s Story – The First 4th of July

One day, more than two hundred years ago, five men were appointed to write a letter to the world. One of the five men was old — seventy years old. His name was Benjamin Franklin. Two of them were middle-aged. Their names were John Adams and Roger Sherman. The other two were young men, and their names were Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson.

Most of the letter was written by one of the young men, by the one named Thomas. He was tall and had sandy hair. His eyes were gray and often sparkled like two stars. He was strong and liked to ride horseback.

Thomas dipped his quill [feather] pen into the ink and scratched away on the paper until the letter was finished. When the other four men read it, they liked it so well that they asked him to make only a few changes.

Soon after the letter was written a big bell began to ring and men began to throw up their hats and shout. The big bell rang and the people shouted because the letter to the world had been written and signed. It was signed by the five men who wrote it, and also by fifty-one other men who had asked them to write it.

That letter to the world is now known in every part of the world. In the United States of America, it is printed in most of the history books that boys and girls study in school. It is called the Declaration of Independence.

The young man Thomas who wrote the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson. He was later to become the president of the United States. The Declaration was signed on the 4th of July 1776. That is the reason we celebrate the 4th of July every year. The big bell weighs more than a ton and it is known as the Liberty Bell. It is kept in the city where the Declaration of Independence was written and signed.

You have all heard the 4th of July called Independence Day. The Liberty Bell hangs in Independence Hall, in the city of Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell became famous on the first 4th of July in American history. A verse from the Bible is printed on the bell. It says, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10).

History Stories for Children, John W. Wayland, ©1991, 225–227.