Festive facts for July 4th – The following are some interesting details about the origins of Independence Day and the celebrations that surround it.
Festive facts for July 4th
Each year on July 4, Americans celebrate the birth of their nation and independence from Great Britain. This day marks the anniversary of the presentation and acceptance of the Declaration of Independence, signed 242 years ago on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration of Independence began as a letter to Britain’s King George to explain why the Continental Congress was interested in declaring independence from Great Britain. The writing of the declaration began on July 2 and the final wording was established on July 4.
Independence Day is full of opportunities to celebrate and enjoy oneself. Parades, fireworks, parties, barbecues, and much more are part of the festivities.
Another way to commemorate Independence Day is to educate oneself about the many historical and entertaining facts that surround the day. The following are some interesting details about the origins of Independence Day and the celebrations that surround it.
Check out these festive facts:
- Although 56 people eventually signed the Declaration of Independence, only John Hancock signed the document on July 4, 1776. The rest added their names later on. John Hancock’s signature is ornate and widely recognized. Putting your “John Hancock” on a document has become synonymous with the process of signing something.
- The Declaration of Independence was adopted while the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Statehouse. That building is now known as Independence Hall.
- The average age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest person to sign was Thomas Lynch, Jr., who was 27 when he signed the document. Benjamin Franklin, at age 70, was the oldest signee.
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the only signees who went on to serve as presidents. Coincidentally, Jefferson and Adams both died on July 4, 1826, within hours of each other.
- Philadelphia is the birth place of much American history and is home to the Liberty Bell. Each Independence Day, the Liberty Bell is tapped (not rung, as the vibration would further damage the cracked bell) 13 times in honor of the original 13 American colonies.
- The original 13 American colonies were located all along the eastern seaboard. They include Virgina, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
- The stars on the original American flag were placed in a circle. This was so all of the colonies would be equally represented.
- Independence was gained in 1776, and the first celebration took place in Philadelphia four days later. The White House held its first Independence Day festivities in 1801.
- Benjamin Franklin proposed that the turkey be the national bird of the United States. However, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson overruled him, and the bald eagle became the national bird.
- The only copy of the engrossed and signed Declaration of Independence is in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
- While July 4th is synonymous with American independence, one of the United States’ founding fathers felt that July 2nd was a more appropriate date to celebrate the colonies’ declaration of independence from Great Britain. John Adams, who would serve as the second President of the United States, felt July 2nd was the correct date to celebrate the colonies’ independence and even protested July 4th by refusing invitations to appear at events on that day during his lifetime. Adams’ contention dates back to June 7, 1776, when Richard Henry Lee, the Virginia delegate of the Continental Congress, first introduced a motion calling for the colonies to declare their independence. Voting on Lee’s motion was postponed, though a five-man committee consisting of Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman was appointed to draft a statement justifying independence from Great Britain. Lee’s motion was approved on July 2nd, and Adams even wrote his wife, Abigail, that the day would be celebrated as the anniversary of the colonies’ independence for many years to come. But that was not to be, as American independence is instead celebrated on July 4th, the day when the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence.
- The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday since 1941. Though that may seem like a long time for the country to wait to celebrate the independence it declared in 1776, the tradition of the Fourth of July, often referred to as Independence Day, dates back to the dawn of the American Revolution and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Since then, July 4th has been recognized as the dawn of American independence, and celebrations that included fireworks and parades can be traced back to the 18th century. On July 4, 1777, the city of Philadelphia, which would become the first capital of the United States of America, held the first annual commemoration of American independence, and exactly one year later George Washington ordered that all of his soldiers be offered double rations of rum to commemorate the anniversary. In 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday, and the day was actually declared a federal holiday by the U.S. Congress in 1870. However, that declaration did not grant a paid holiday to federal employees. That benefit came in 1941, which is why that year is now recognized as the first year when the Fourth of July officially became a federal holiday.
Independence Day is a time for hot dogs, ice cream and, of course, revisiting America’s history.
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