When it comes to Independence Day, the first things people tend to think about are barbecues and fireworks. Of course, we all know about the Declaration of Independence announcing our intention to free ourselves from Great Britain, but here are ten facts you might not know about our Founding Fathers and history of one of America’s most important holidays.
- The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies, but only John Hancock actually signed it on July 4, 1776. The rest all signed later on August 2nd.
- John Adams believed July 2nd should be the day celebrated, as that is when the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Britain, but the final wording of the Declaration was not approved until July 4th.
- The average age of the signers was 45, with the oldest being Benjamin Franklin at 70, while the youngest was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge of South Carolina.
- The only two signers to serve as president were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration.
- The first unofficial Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776 which was also the day the Declaration was first read aloud to the public. The first official celebration was held in Philadelphia the following year and included fireworks, a parade and a thirteen-shot salute.
- The oldest continuous Independence Day parade is held in Bristol, RI where it was first held in 1785.
- Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday in 1870 but changed it to a paid federal holiday in 1938.
- The iconic Liberty Bell has not been rung since it cracked in 1846, but is tapped thirteen times each Independence Day in honor of the thirteen original colonies.
- In 1776, roughly 2.5 million people were living in the thirteen colonies. According to the World Census Bureau, over 323 million were living in the United States in 2016, 240 years later.
- Americans consume more hot dogs on this day than any other day of the year. The American Hot Dog and Sausage council estimates that over 150 million of the tasty treats are consumed.
So, this year, when you’re getting ready to celebrate in your favorite fashion, be sure to have a few of these fun facts handy to impress your friends and family!
Happy 4th of July!