Independence Day is this weekend, so we thought we’d cover a few facts you might NOT know about this particular holiday. (Or hey, maybe you’re super smart and know all this already. Go you!)
July 4th, 1776 may not have been when the Declaration of Independence was signed by everyone.
While Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all wrote that they had signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, many historians believe many of the Founding Fathers did not sign it until nearly a month later, on August 2nd, 1776.
There is no historical evidence that the iconic Liberty Bell was rung on July 4th, 1776.
The legend surrounding the Liberty Bell stems from a short story written in 1847 that claimed an aged bell-ringer rang the bell upon hearing the announcement of the Second Continental Congress’s vote for independence. In reality, the Declaration of Independence was not read publicly until July 8th, upon which date most historians agree the bell was actually rung.
Independence Day was not always an official holiday.
While historical records say Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, Congress didn’t make it official until 1870. Even then it was an unpaid federal holiday, and wasn’t made a paid holiday until 1938.
Three presidents and Founding Fathers died on July 4th.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both passed away on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. A few years later, James Monroe died on July 4th, 1831. To this date, the only president to have been born on July 4th was Calvin Coolidge, in 1872.
Before the advent of inexpensive fireworks, many cities in the New England area celebrated with huge bonfires.
The bonfires were often made from a tower of excess wooden barrels that were stacked high, then doused with oil/gasoline and lit on fire. Obviously there was plenty of danger with such a high stack, and once fireworks became more common and safe, the bonfires became less and less popular. Now the tradition is rarely upheld in only a handful of cities.
Grilling out/barbecuing on July 4th has long been a part of American tradition.
In the 1800s, colonists in the Virginia area would gather in the summer to smoke large animals over a large pit, a practice they inherited from tribes in the Caribbean. Politicians noticed the crowds that gathered to watch the barbecue, and when these politicians began staging rallies to celebrate Independence Day, they included a barbecue to draw more people to the event. Thus, an American tradition was born!
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, that’s actually a thing), Americans eat around 20 billion hot dogs per year, and about 155 million of those are eaten on July 4th alone.
It’s become such a staple on this particular holiday that Nathan’s Famous holds a hotdog eating contest every year on July 4th. In 2014, the male champion ate a total of 61 hotdogs and the female champion ate 34 in 10 minutes for a total prize purse of $60,000!
Simple sparklers cause the most fire-work related injuries.
While fireworks come with a multitude of warning labels and caution stickers, you might be surprised to learn that most firework-related injuries are actually due to sparklers. One of the smallest fireworks on the market, they can reach up to a whopping 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit!
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, wasn’t a fan of the Bald Eagle as the national bird.
He instead recommended the turkey be the symbol of America. His reasoning? The eagle “is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly”, where the turkey is “a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red Coat on.”
So there you have it: ten things you might not have known about Independence Day. Now you can impress your friends and family over your hot dogs, barbecue, and beer as you celebrate our great nation.
TJM Promotions wishes everyone a happy Independence Day and asks that you please stay safe while you celebrate!
P.S. If you’re in the Ocala area, here’s a list of events that are happening this weekend: http://www.ocala.com/article/20150701/GO/150709996