(Spoiler alert: I had so much fun putting this together in 2020 that I feel a reprint is in order !)
No, that is not a misprint. It is the date that John Adams (in a letter to his wife Abigail, dated July 3, 1776) predicted would be the date celebrated as the country’s independence since it was on that date that the Second Continental Congress voted to sever ties with Great Britain. (Our population was 2.5 million!) ***
It was on July 4th that the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first paper to publish it on July 6, 1776. The first celebration occurred in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776 when it was first read in public. While the Liberty bell was rung on July 8, 1776, it cracked and so now on every July 4th, it is simply tapped thirteen times in honor of the thirteen original colonies.
(Considering all the serious stuff going on in the world, a break is very much needed and so hopefully some fun facts about July 4th will provide a smile or two.)
Believe it or not, only two of the 56 men (sorry, no women allowed!) who signed the Declaration of Independence, did so on July 4, 1776. They were John Hancock and Charles Thompson. The remaining Founding Fathers signed over the course of the next month, with most of them signing on August 2, 1776. One of the signers, Richard Stockton, a lawyer from New Jersey, later recanted his support for the new country after being captured by the British in November 1776 and thrown into jail. Seven of the signers had Harvard educations.
The average age of the signers was 45 years old with Benjamin Franklin being the oldest at 70 years and Thomas Lynch, Jr and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina being the youngest at 26 years. Thomas Jefferson was 33 years old at the time. (How many of us have helped start a new country at 26 or 33 years of age?)
The original draft of the Declaration of Independence was lost. But the back of the Declaration does say ‘Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” (Imagine the tedium of having to hand write out a copy! Where is the copying machine or word processor when you need it! Or did they use Franklin’s printing press!) In 1989, another early printed copy later turned up hidden in a frame of a painting bought at a flea market for $4.00 It was later sold for $2.4 million.
At the time Benjamin Franklin proposed that the turkey be our national bird. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson overruled Adams in favor of the bald eagle
Although Massachusetts was the first state to declare July 4th an official holiday on July 3, 1781, it is Bristol, Rhode Island that claims to have the oldest July 4th celebration as it started celebrating in 1785. The White House started celebrating in 1801.
Independence Day became an official unpaid holiday for federal employees in the District of Columbia only in 1870. It became a paid federal holiday in 1938.
The stars in the original flag were in a circle to show the colonies to be equal. The present 50-star flag was designed by Robert G. Heft, 16 years old in 1958, as part of a school project assigned by his history teacher in Lancaster Ohio. Although his teacher initially gave him a B-minus on the project, the grade was changed to an A after his design was selected to be the new national flag. In 2012, most imported flags were from China ($3.6 million worth!)
And what would July 4th be without hot dogs. According to the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council, Americans are expected to consume about 150 million hot dogs over the holiday. In 2018, Joey Chestnut ate 74 hot dogs alone to win the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition and won again in 2019 by eating 71 hot dogs. (And don’t forget the chicken- 700 million pounds are consumed as well.)
Yet, New England does it differently. The tradition there is to eat salmon and green peas with perhaps some turtle soup as an appetizer.
And fireworks…! The United States imported $227.3 million worth of fireworks from China in 2012. In 2017, there were about 15,000 different firework displays throughout the country. While small towns spent approximately $8,000-$15,000 on a display the Boston Pops Fireworks Display cost over $2 million.
Our national anthem? The tune originates as an English drinking song called, “to Anacreon in Heaven.”
As we all know, Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe each died on July 4th with Adams and Jefferson passing away on July 4, 1826 within hours of each other and James Monroe passing away in 1831. Our 30th President- Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872.
What else happened on July 4th? On July 4, 1862- Henry David Thoreau started living at Waldon Pond. In 1862- Alice Liddell first listened to “Alice in Wonderland” while on a boat trip down the Thames. The story was not published until three years later- July 4, 1865. On July 4, 1918, the Friedman twins were born. They later became known as Dear Abby and Ann Landers. And… on July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his famous retirement speech at Yankee stadium after being diagnosed with ALS also known as Lou Gehrig disease. And on that date, George Steinbrenner who later became owner of the Yankees was nine years old having been born on July 4, 1930.
Happy July 4th! I hope you have a healthy and happy holiday!
Because this pandemic seems to still be with us (variants keep mutating!), I hope that everyone approaches their July 4th festivities with a bit of caution and safety (and mask wearing?) !
Stay Safe and Healthy!
… Just something to think about!
***To put together this blog, I used the following sources:
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