From the Archives: A Fourth of July with the Presidents

  • Declaration of Independence

    The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

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  • Declaration Engraving_1823

    This image of the Declaration of Independence is taken from the engraving made by printer William J. Stone in 1823.

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  • Declaration Mural by Faulkner

    “The Declaration” is a large-scale mural displayed above the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives in Washington, D.C

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  • HST_Gift in Oval Office

    Harry S. Truman greets little Michael Gene Condatore of Washington in the Oval Office.

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  • DDE_Fireworks

    Crowds attend the fireworks on the National Mall with the Washington Monument in the background. Eisenhower administration, 7/4/1954.

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  • JFK_Independence Hall

    John F. Kennedy delivers a Fourth of July address at the Governors Conference at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA. 7/4/62.

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  • RN_July 4 South Lawn

    White House staff members watch Fourth of July fireworks from the White House lawn. Nixon administration, 7/4/69.

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  • GRF_Bicentennial Wagons

    Gerald Ford boards the Michigan wagon at the Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage encampment, where wagon trains converged after crossing the nation.

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  • JC_July 4 South Lawn

    July 4th celebration on the South Lawn. Carter administration, 7/4/80.

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  • RR_July 4 Picnic

    Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan watch the fireworks at the July 4th Independence Day Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House. 7/4/81.

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  • GB_July 4 Family

    Four of George H.W. Bush’s children, Marvin, Jeb, Neil and Doro, celebrate the Fourth of July at the Bayou Club in Houston, Texas. 7/4/65.

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  • WJC_WH Residence Staff

    Fourth of July celebration at the White House. Residence Staff members watch the fireworks at the top of the balcony. Clinton administration, 7/4/2000

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  • GWB_July 4 2007

    George W. Bush joins children during the Pledge of Allegiance at a Fourth of July visit with members of the West Virginia Air National Guard

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  • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House. 7/4/2009

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See the full-size gallery

Over the years, Presidents have celebrated Independence Day with commemorative ceremonies, White House picnics, family gatherings, and of course, fireworks. Some Presidents preferred to relax away from the White House – Lyndon B. Johnson traditionally spent the holiday at his ranch in Stonewall, Texas.  Others have traced the history of the holiday with visits to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. 

In 1976, President Gerald Ford marked the nation’s bicentennial with a series of celebrations across the country. Among the many unique events was the Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage, where covered wagons converged in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania after crossing the nation on historic trails. President Ford, who was raised in Michigan, boarded the Michigan wagon at the encampment in Valley Forge State Park. You can see a photo of this event and more in our Independence Day gallery from the holdings of the U.S. National Archives and the Presidential Libraries. For more information visit:

Happy Fourth of July!

Jeannie Chen is the Social Media Coordinator for the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives.