Test your knowledge with these curious and not so well known facts around Independence Day.
Today, Americans in the United States, and all over the world, are celebrating the 239th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. But, did you know that 4th of July was not a federal holiday until 1938? That’s a mere 162 years later!
Keep reading, as we discover some interesting facts about Independence Day, a holiday full of fireworks, parades, military salutes… and barbecues.
- The Independence from the British Crown was formally declared on July 2nd, 1776. The Declaration was signed until August 2nd, 1776. Why, then, is it celebrated on July 4th? July 4th was the date in which the revised and final version of the Declaration was ratified.
- As president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence, but he was the only person to actually sign on July 4th, 1776. His signature was so big and adorned, that didn’t leave much space in the document for the other 55 signers, who, as we said before, signed later that year.
- Founding Father Thomas Jefferson lead a committee of 5 authors who created the Declaration manuscript. He was only 33 years old.
- Robert Livingston, one of the authors in charge of drafting the Declaration of Independence and representative of the New York Congress, was recalled by his state before signing the document; therefore his name doesn’t appear in this very important chapter of the American History.
- Three of the first five presidents of the United States died on July 4th: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Adams and Jefferson both died in 1826, within hours of each other.
Every 4th of July at noon, military bases fire a 50-gun salute, to remember each of the 50 states and celebrate their Independence. This practice was instituted by the War Department in 1810.
- The first flag of the United States as an independent nation featured 13 stars, representing the 13 colonies. The stars formed a circle, in representation of a “new constellation”, and also presenting the 13 colonies as equal to one another.
- The turkey was first to be proposed as the national bird, by Benjamin Franklin. The turkey was overruled by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who proposed the bald eagle as the American national bird.
- At the time of the Independence, the population in all 13 colonies was of 2.5 million people, which is the current population of Dallas, TX.
- The first Independence Day was celebrated in Philadelphia, on July 8th, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read to the public, after summoning the people by ringing the Liberty Bell.
- On the 4th of July, the Liberty Bell is not rung anymore; it’s actually tapped 13 times, to remember and honor the 13 colonies. Its famous crack widened irreparably in 1846, when it rang its last clear note, in celebration of George Washington’s Birthday.
Happy 239th birthday, America. You have lots to celebrate!