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19 Facts About American Independence Day

July 4 is an important date for the US, but the facts surrounding it are even more intriguing. Learn some fun facts about United States’ Independence Day.

Fourth of July is the most anticipated holiday in the USA, and for a good reason; it’s not every day you get to celebrate the country’s independence. The celebrations for a holiday can put most others to shame, given the decorations, parades, parties, and fireworks. However, the Fourth of July is more than just a holiday. It is a commemoration of our freedom, and all Americans express their gratitude through festivities. The best part about the day for me, however, is all the current and historical facts. Here are some fun facts about American Independence Day that you will find interesting.

Only Charles Thompson and John Hancock signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776.

Contrary to popular belief, only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The remaining 54 signatories signed over the next month, including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Only Charles Thompson and John Hancock signed the Declaration on July 4, 1776
/ GettyImages

The independence vote happened on July 2, not July 4.

Another intriguing detail is that the actual vote for independence happened two days earlier, on July 2. The Declaration was published publicly on the fourth, which was later known as Independence Day. However, not everyone was enthusiastic about the new date. John Adams was famously disgruntled about July 4 being considered the independence day instead of July 2.

Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson, who became the 3rd President of the USA, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In addition to being a statesman and diplomat, Jefferson was a lawyer, an architect, musician, and philosopher.

Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence.

The average age of all the signatories of the Declaration of Independence was 45. Benjamin Franklin, from Pennsylvania, was the oldest, while the 27-year-old Thomas Lynch Jr., from South Carolina, was the youngest.

Both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was a central city for several events related to Independence Day. Another notable fact is that despite signing the Declaration in 1776, the US did not have an official constitution until 1787. Delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the constitution on September 17, 1787.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia
GPA Photo Archive / Flickr

Double the Rum for Independence Day celebration!

Soldiers were embroiled in the Revolutionary War on July 4, 1778. Since a regular celebration was not possible, George Washington ordered double the ration of rum for everyone to celebrate Independence Day!

A total of 2.5 million people celebrated the first Independence Day.

The thirteen colonies to sign the Declaration of Independence had a combined population of 2.5 million people. 245 years later, several more states have become a part of the USA, and 356 million people celebrate this patriotic holiday.

Men from 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence.

Initially, people from 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, and the flag design at the time represented each of them with a star in a circle. The reason for choosing a circle was to represent equality and communicate that each state was equally important and influential.

The White House held its first July 4 party in 1801.

Although the Independence Day celebrations became a common occurrence, the White House did not officially celebrate it until 1801, 25 years after the Declaration was signed.

Americans spend over $1 billion annually on fireworks.

It’s no secret that Americans love celebrating the national holiday and express their patriotism through such expressions. We spend a staggering $1 billion on fireworks annually, and most of these are used for the Independence Day celebrations. That’s a lot of firepower!

A 16-year-old designed the current American flag.

This fact is relatively well-known, but it is one of our favorites. Robert G. Heft designed the current American flag in 1958 as part of a history assignment. The 16-year-old got a B minus on the project, which he rejected. As proof that the flag was worth more, he sent the stitched design to Washington DC President Eisenhower selected his design, and it eventually became the official flag of the USA, prompting his teacher to revise his grade and give him an A.

American Flag
Angie / Flickr

July 4 did not become an official holiday until 1870.

Although people started celebrating Independence Day, the date did not become an official holiday until a century later. Even then, it was an unpaid holiday. However, the state revised this decision in 1938, making July 4 a paid holiday for all Americans.

The Bald Eagle was not the originally proposed national bird of the USA.

The bald eagle is one of our pride and joy and an iconic symbol of patriotism and freedom for all Americans. However, it was not the originally proposed national bird of the country. Benjamin Franklin had proposed the turkey as the national bird of the USA; however, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson opposed the proposal and suggested that the bald eagle be chosen instead. Their suggestion was accepted, which is why we don’t have a turkey on all our iconic designs.

American Bald Eagle
/ Unsplash

The first Independence Day parade happened in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Independence Day parades are common in several cities across the country, especially in some smaller towns, where families gather to watch. This tradition first started in Bristol in Rhode Island in 1785, pioneered by Rev. Henry Wight, a veteran of the war of independence.

Americans eat 150 million hotdogs during July 4 celebrations!

Fireworks aren’t the only part of the Independence Day celebrations we tend to overdo; we are just as enthusiastic about food. According to statistics, Americans consume a total of 150 million hotdogs during the July 4 celebrations. Setting up a hotdog stand at the time can be an excellent business opportunity!

The Liberty Bell is tapped 13 times on Independence Day to commemorate the 13 colonies.

The best part about the current celebrations is that we have not forgotten our history. Each year on Independence Day, the descendants of the original signatories tap the Liberty Bell thirteen times to commemorate the first colonies to sign the Declaration. It used to ring initially, but a crack appeared in it in 1846, and people deemed it too fragile to be rung again.

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall
Jessie Hodge / Flickr

One of the American Presidents was born on July 4.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the USA, is the only president born on July 4. However, three presidents of the country, namely Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe, died on the day, two of whom had also signed the Declaration of Independence.

An Independence Day celebration started a fire in Portland, burning down 1,800 buildings.

Unfortunately, not all patriotic celebrations have been happy affairs for people. According to historical records, the Independence Day fireworks in Portland in 1866 started a massive fire, destroying 1,800 buildings. The destruction included the City Hall and Post Office and led more than 10,000 people to become homeless in its wake.

The patriotic flag-bearing attires are technically a violation of the flag code. Yikes!

Americans have unique ways of showcasing their patriotism, including wearing apparel featuring the US flag. Little do they know that this decision technically violates the flag code, which holds that the US flag should never be used as apparel or bedding. Although no one has been fined for the violation in recent history, this fact is still a shocking discovery.

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