Most of us take it for granted that the Fourth of July is a federal holiday. We just accept it for what it is without knowing how it came about. To get the Fourth of July established as a national holiday, numerous legislation was passed. But what is surprising is how much federal legislation was passed to get the Fourth of July recognized as a federal holiday.
Here is a time line of the various federal legislation that was passed to make the Fourth of July a national holiday.
• 1870 – Senator Hannibal Hamlin introduced a Senate Bill titled “Legal Holidays in the District”?. This bill was designed to establish the Fourth of July as a holiday for federal employees and the District of Columbia, but it was not to be a paid holiday.
• 1938 — The Fourth of July was legislated as a federal holiday with pay for federal employees by a joint resolution of Congress.
• 1941 — Robert Ramspeck, Chairman, Committee on the Civil Service of the House of Representatives, brought to Congress’ attention that the legislation that was passed in 1938 failed to specify that employees of the Government of the District of Columbia would have the day off with pay. So in 1941 a “Holiday Leave for Per Diem Employees of the District of Columbia”? amendment was added to the law that was passed in 1938.
• 1959 — Congress passed an act that stated if the Fourth of July holiday occurred on a Saturday that the day before the holiday would be considered the public holiday and employees of the federal government and the District of Columbia were to get the preceding day off with pay.
• 1991 — Congress through the years has passed legislation or introduced bills that designated certain Fourth of July holidays with patriotic themes, such as “July 4th Family Celebration Day”?.
One thing that you might have noticed is that all of the laws that were passed only talked about federal employees and employees of the District of Columbia. State employees or regular employees weren’t mentioned in the new laws that declared the Fourth of July as a federal holiday. The reason for this is that in the United States there is no such thing as a national holiday; a national holiday would be a holiday that is observed in all fifty states. The President and Congress can only legally establish an “official”? holiday for its “federal”? employees and the District of Columbia.
With this in mind you might start wondering how come all of the different states observe the Fourth of July holiday if the federal government is only responsible for establishing holidays for the federal government and the District of Columbia. The answer to this is relatively simple, each state and municipalities are free to adopt holidays that are celebrated by the federal government and they can create their own. So in order to establish the Fourth of July as a holiday the states had to establish it as a holiday. There are several ways that a state can establish a holiday:
• Enactment of a law issued by a state legislature or by an executive proclamation, which is an order from a state governor
• An act of confirmation
• City may enact an ordinance regarding the celebration of the Fourth of July
Although there is a federal law that has been passed stating that if the Fourth of July falls an a Saturday it will be observed the preceding day, which is Friday, there is no law that has been passed about what day the holiday will be celebrated if it falls on a Sunday. Because no law has ever been passed about this topic different cities and states will celebrate the Fourth of July on a Monday, while others will celebrate it on Monday.