The Fourth of July is the most patriotic holiday of the year! A day many of us spend stocking up on fireworks and eating barbeque with a host of family and friends. This year, before you fire up the grill, light your sparklers and head to the pool, why not take some time to bone up on some of the rich history and fun facts about this holiday. Some of it you may know, but some of it you may not, and some of it you could use to stump your friends!
We hope you enjoy these fun facts as much as we enjoyed learning and compiling them ourselves. We wish you a very safe and Happy 4th of July!
- The Continental Congress officially declared its independence from Britain on July 2, 1776. The vote on Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence was nearly unanimous. The Declaration of Independence was officially adopted 2 days later, marked by the ringing of the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
- Although it is believed that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, only John Hancock and Charles Thompson actually signed it on July 4, 1776. The rest of the 56 delegates from the 13 colonies didn’t sign until August 2, 1776 to make it official.
- Benjamin Franklin was the oldest to sign the Declaration at 70 years old in 1776, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Edward Rutledge, aged 26, was the youngest signer of the historic document.
- At the time, John Adams believed that July 2nd, not the 4th, would be the date remembered in history. It has been reported that Adams was so upset that Independence Day was not celebrated on the 2nd that he repeatedly turned down invitations to July 4th celebrations throughout his life.
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the History of America,” Adams wrote in a letter to his wife on July 3 of that year. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”
- Some colonists celebrated the day by holding mock funerals for England’s King George III, as a way of reinforcing America’s victory over the British monarchy, according to History.com.
- The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. This was also the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.
- The Fourth of July was celebrated annually throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and in 1870, Congress declared the day a federal holiday. But it wasn’t until 1941 that the date became a paid federal holiday for federal employees.
- Massachusetts became the first state to make the 4th of July an official state holiday in 1781.
- President Zachary Taylor died in 1850, several days after eating spoiled cherries at a July 4th celebration. His personal physicians concluded that he had succumbed to cholera morbus, a bacterial infection of the small intestine.
- The Statue of Liberty: The torch represents enlightenment and it lights the path to liberty and freedom. The official name is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” It was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi just in time for the centennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence. The tablet she is holding has the date July 4, 1776 engraved on it.
- Three US presidents have died on July 4 — John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, within mere hours of each other—the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Wow!
- Americans approximately consume around 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken on the Fourth of July each year. That’s A LOT of hot dogs and chicken!!
- Americans spend more on beer on the 4th of July than any other national holiday. According to a 2016 report from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Memorial Day then Labor Day have the next-highest beer sales behind the Fourth of July.
- Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped (not actually rung) thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies. The bell cannot be rung, as it was deemed too fragile after a crack appeared on George Washington’s birthday in 1846, which is the last time it was rung.
- Fireworks date back as a tradition of Independence Day as early as the first anniversary in 1777. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Americans spend more than $1 billion on fireworks each year. Out of this, only 10% of firework displays are set off professionally, which probably accounts for the estimated 12,900 firework-related emergency room visits across the country.
- Parades are a mainstay of Independence Day celebrations in the U.S. dating back to the year 1785 when the first 4th of July parade took place in Bristol, Rhode Island. Today, the town celebrates America’s birthday from Flag Day in June through July 4th with a parade route that lasts 2.5 miles.
- Though the iconic design of Old Glory has not changed since the 50th star was added in 1960, there were 26 previous versions of the U.S. flag, according to USA Today. The original design featured 13 stars and stripes, each representative of a former British colony. Today, the stripes still number 13 and there is a star to represent each state in the union.
- When the colonists first came to America, they were looking for ways to distance themselves from Britain. They ditched their traditional scones and cakes and learned how to make a pastry crust from Dutch immigrants who had also come to America. Since apples were easy to come by, they filled the pastries with apple slices and the tradition of apple pie (and independence) was born.
Do you know any fun facts that we have missed? If so, leave us a comment. We would love to read and share them!