It's that time of year again!
As grills light up, fireworks fill the air, and celebrations across the United States kick off for this year's Fourth of July, many families are gathering with relief and homecoming after a difficult year apart. In honor of Independence Day, enjoy these eight facts you probably didn't know about the founding of the United States.
- Independence Day was technically initiated on July 2. Say what? It's true: On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. After it was approved, Congress got to work on revising the Declaration of Independence, which was publicized on (you guessed it) July 4.
- July 4th is an oddly...coincidental date. Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only two individuals to sign the Declaration of Independence and later serve as president of the United States, both died on the same day: July 4, 1826. This date was also the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
- No, like, very coincidental. What's more: James Monroe, another Founding Father who was later elected as president, also died on July 4, 1831 (though unlike Jefferson and Adams, he did not sign the Declaration). Monroe was the third president to die on the anniversary of independence. Meanwhile, Calvin Coolidge was born on this date in 1872.
- John Adams actually encouraged us to celebrate with barbecues and parades. While Congress was in session to approve the articles of independence, Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, saying:
"The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Though he was off by two days, you may find many of his means of celebration very familiar.
5. Evidently, those living in American colonies celebrated the King's birthday with bonfires and speeches, prior to independence. In 1776, those same individuals are said to have celebrated the 4th by holding mock funerals for King George III. Petty much?
6. Today, it's estimated that around 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the 4th of July. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, that's a real thing) determined that Americans consume enough hot dogs on the 4th to stretch from D.C. to L.A. more than five times. That's a lot of dogs!
7. Independence Day wasn't a federal holiday until 1870. Celebrating Independence Day wasn't common until after the War of 1812. But, by the 1870s, the Fourth of July had become one of the most important nonreligious holidays in the country. Congress passed a law making Independence Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1870.
8. The nation's oldest Fourth of July parade takes place in Rhode Island. The first celebration in Bristol, Rhode Island, was in 1785, and it was a small affair with fewer than two dozen attendees. Now, Bristol's Fourth of July celebration begins on Flag Day (June 14) with local events leading up to the Independence Day parade. On the 4th, the parade stretches 2.5 miles through town.
With (hopefully) a bit of new knowledge under your belt, we hope you celebrate this year's independence with a nod to the history that has formed it. To learn more about the independence of the United States, check out the video below.