10 Interesting Facts About the 4th of July

It’s that time of year where family and friends get together for barbecues, adults do copious amounts of drinking, and children run around with sparklers. At the end of the night, everyone looks up as the dark skies illuminate with an array of colors caused by fireworks exploding above their heads. Once a year, Americans get together in celebration of their country’s birthday, the 4th of July.

July 4th is more than just a kickoff to the summer. It is a celebration of the Second Continental Congress getting together in Philadelphia back in 1776, and adopting the final draft of what we know now as the Declaration of the Independence.

The Declaration of Independence was a means to an end on the British rule over America. With the signatures of 56 men spanning over 13 colonies, 8 of which were British, this document became the law of the land, and still has a prominent role in our everyday lives.

Sure, we know the Declaration of Independence came into effect on July 4, 1776. We know it was signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We even know that Thomas Jefferson drafted the document. However, there are many things that a lot of people do not know about America’s birthday.

 

 

Here are 10 interesting facts about the 4th of July:

 

1. The Real Independence Day is July 2

July 4, 1776 has gone down in history as Independence Day. However, that is not the actual date when America claimed its sovereignty. The true Independence Day is actually two days earlier. In a letter to his wife, Abagail, future president and signee of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams claimed that the Continental Congress voted for states freedom on July 2nd. Adams wrote in the letter,

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”

And future-President Adams was right. Generations do celebrate the great anniversary festival. They just do it on July 4, the day that the Declaration of Independence text was actually sent to the printer.

 

2. Only 2 People Signed the Original Declaration of Independence

As Thomas Jefferson completed the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Second Congressional Congress agreed on its contents on July 2. On July 4, the document was printed. The president of Congress, John Hancock, and the secretary of Congress, Charles Thompson, signed the final draft. As it was handwritten, copies were then made containing these two signatures.

However, on July 19, Congress declared representatives from all 13 colonies needed to sign the document. On August 2, 1776, 56 signatures adorned the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.

 

3. The Liberty Bell Gets Tapped 13 Times

The first actual celebration of Independence Day took place on July 8, 1776.  Summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell, the people of Philadelphia gathered on that day for a public reading of this newfound document.

In honor of the original 13 colonies, the Liberty Bell was rung 13 times each year in celebration of the great festival. However, over time the Liberty Bell began to showcase its now-famous crack. To preserve the cultural landmark, the Bell has not been rung since 1846. This precaution has not stopped the 4th of July Liberty Bell tradition. Instead of ringing the Bell, it is now symbolically tapped 13 times.

 

4. Yankee Doodle Used to be a Negative Song

“Yankee Doodle” has been a staple of many Americans’ 4th of July celebrations dating all the way back to their childhoods. It’s a catchy and silly song that is sung in honor of America’s birthday. However, the song originated before the Revolutionary War even took place. It was sung by officers of the British military as a mockery of the colonial “Yankees.”

In 1781, the British surrendered in Yorktown. Since then, the catchy tune went from being a negative song sung by the British to a source of pride bellowed by Americans.

 

5. Three U.S. Presidents Died July 4

July 4th is famous for America’s independence, but it is also infamous for the loss of three United States Presidents’ lives. The only two future presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Ironically enough, on July 4, 1826, these two men died within hours of one another.

A third president, who did not sign the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4th as well. President James Monroe passed away in 1831.

July 4th also witnessed the birth of Calvin Coolidge, who was born on that date in 1872.

 

6. Firework Celebrations Began on America’s 1st Birthday

As the Liberty Bell tradition has been upheld since the inaugural Independence Day, a custom created one year later continues to be a staple at 4th of July parties to this day. That symbol would be fireworks.

On July 4, 1777 the city of Philadelphia celebrated its first full year of independence. The Congress gathered for dinner, and then celebrated with the rest of the city with a festival that was complete with bells, bonfires, and fireworks.

Streets filled as a parade swept through the town, which also included setting off 13 shots in a cannonball salute.

 

7. Rhode Island is Home to Oldest Independence Day Celebration

Bristol, Rhode Island has earned the moniker of, “America’s most patriotic town.” That comes with good reason. This city has held a long-standing tradition of celebrating America’s independence for almost a month. Established back in 1785 by Reverend Henry Wright of the First Congregational Church, Indepdence Day celebrations begin on June 14, which is known as Flag Day.

Flag Day celebrations come complete with soap-box races and concerts. The festivities continue each week until the oldest annual parade transpires on July 4. Known as “The Military, Civic, and Firemen’s Parade,” Bristol’s 4th of July event draws over 200,000 people annually.

 

8. Independence Day Only Became a Federal Holiday in 1938

Although America celebrated Independence Day a mere four days after adopting the Declaration of Independence, it did not become a day off of work for federal employees until 1870. Even though Congress gave federal employees the day off, they still withheld pay for those who did not work.

It wasn’t until 1938 that Congress made July 4 a paid federal holiday for all Americans.

 

9. America Spends $1.09 Billion on Fireworks

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, 285.3 million pounds of fireworks are set off during the 4th of July season. As compared to displays put on by businesses and towns, people set off 260.7 million pounds of fireworks privately, while the latter sets off 24.6 million. In total, all the fireworks flown into the air during America’s birthday adds up to $1.09 billion annually.

67% of firework-related injuries happen during the 4th of July weekend with 690 calls made to emergency services. Although those numbers seem high, only 7 deaths on average are reported due to fireworks gone wrong each year.

 

10. Americans Consume 155 Million Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are the food of choice for the event John Adams described as, “The Great Festival.” It’s a good thing that this celebration happens in the month of July, which is aptly named National Hot Dog Month.

On average, Americans spend $6.77 billion on food for festivities. A sizeable portion of this goes to the hot dog industry, which sells 155 million hot dogs each year for Independence Day-related parties.