The Fourth of July really should be the Second of July. The founding fathers in the U.S. voted for independence at their meeting in Philadelphia on July 2, 1776. But the vote was published in official papers two days later.
Fifty-six delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. But only of them signed it on July 4, those being John Hancock and Charles Thompson. The others put their signatures to paper over the following weeks.
Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on a small desk that slipped over his lap. It was called at the time, and we’re not kidding, a “laptop.”
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on fireworks for the Fourth of July. The practice of pyrotechnics for Independence Day dates back to 1777, when John Adams wrote a letter to his wife saying the first anniversary of independence from the British called for parades and “bonfires and illuminations.”
In 2017 alone, there were 12,900 fireworks-related injuries treated in U.S. hospitals with eight known deaths.
Thomas Jefferson, 82, and John Adams, 90, both former presidents at time, died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Former president James Monroe died on the Fourth of July in 1831.
Although three presidents died on Independence Day, only one president was born on the Fourth of July. That would be Calvin Coolidge, who was born July 4, 1872.
Noted musician Stephen Foster, sometimes called the Father of American Music, was born on July 4, 1826; the same day both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died. Other notable names born on July 4 include author Nathaniel Hawthorne and Malia Obama.
Odd as it sounds, the Fourth of July was not deemed a federal holiday until 1870, nearly 100 years after the nation was founded.
According to the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council, Americans are expected to eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday. Hope there’s enough mustard to go around.
Construction on the Erie Canal began in Rome, New York on July 4, 1817.
Samuel Francis Smith wrote “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” for the Fourth of July festivities in Boston in 1831. Oddly, for a song about American pride, it’s the same melody as “God Save The Queen.”
In Brooklyn, New York, the first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, titled Leaves of Grass, was published on the Fourth of July in 1855.
On July 4, 1863, The Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from the battlefield after its loss at the Battle of Gettysburg, signaling an end to the Southern invasion of the North during the Civil War.
The current 50-star flag of the United States made its debut on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became a state in 1959.