It’s no secret that the United States fought for and won its independence from the British, leading to the celebration of July 4th in the states. What may not be known are these ten little nuggets of information that make up this July 4th installment!
The Deaths of Adams and Jefferson
Exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence saw its first signatures, two of the document’s more important figures, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, passed away. It seems like an odd coincidence that these two influential figures and former presidents would pass away on what is deemed as the United States’ most important holiday; but the two also died within hours of each other. Their death’s were symbolic, as they were the last remaining revolutionaries against the British empire. As Adams lay on his deathbed at 90 years old, his last words were “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” unbeknownst to him that he outlived Jefferson, who had died at his residence earlier that day.
A Powerful List of Grievances
If you’ve never read the Declaration of Independence, you’re likely missing out on one of the most important grievances you will ever hear about. That is, of course, what a good portion of the Declaration actually focused on – the many reasons why the colonists wanted to break away from Britain. The document was less about complaining about the king’s acts of tyranny over the states, but rather a justification as to why independence was needed. The list included over 25 different grievances, including suspending of the colony’s attempt at self-legislation, deprivation of Trial by Jury, imposing taxes, and cutting off trade with any other part of the world.
The 13 Rings of the Liberty Bell
Over the years, the Liberty Bell has seen its fair share of wear and tear. As it stands today, the bell has a large, threatening crack down its face, which many fear could worsen if the bell is ever used. Originally, it was believed the bell had rung on July 8th, 1776 to mark the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. These days, on every Fourth of July at precisely 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time, descendants of the Declaration signers tap the bell 13 times rather than ring it, in fear of further damaging the historical piece. The 13 taps are in honor of the original 13 states.
The 1801 White House Party
Despite having been a topic of celebration for 24 years, the Fourth of July had yet to see an official event being held at the White House. To many, it would seem odd that the most important building in the United States government had yet to partake in the celebrations, but nobody sought to vocalize the thought. The irony ended in 1801 when then-President Thomas Jefferson opened the doors of the symbolic building and invited the public to join in on a celebratory event. The White House served punch with assorted sweets to anyone that happened to venture inside. Though the White House doesn’t currently carry on Jefferson’s open door policy, Jefferson’s personal residence carries on tradition every Independence Day.
It’s A Shared Holiday
The Fourth of July may be considered an American Holiday by many, but there are other countries that share the holiday with the United States. Ironically, the Fourth of July was also celebrated in the Philippines as being the day the country recognizes for its independence from America. In 1898, as part of the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War, the Philippines was granted sovereignty. 1962 did mark the last year the date was celebrated, though, as President Diosdado Macapagal moved the festivities to June 12th, the date the Philippines became independent from Spain. Sharing the date with the Philippines and the United States is also Rwanda, which gained control of the capital city of Kigali in 1994.
July 4th as a Paid, Federal Holiday
If you work any sort of government job in the United States, you get to enjoy a nice day off for the Fourth of July, but that wasn’t always the case. In 1870, almost a century after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the United States Congress dubbed July 4th a federal holiday; but it wasn’t until 1938 that the holiday was added to the list of federally paid holidays. A provision in 1941 sought to rectify the lack of mention of Government employees of the District of Columbia. Yet another amendment was made in 1959, stating that should the Fourth of July fall on a Saturday, the Friday preceding would be recognized as the paid holiday.
The Signing of the Declaration of Independence
There is a common misconception that the Deceleration of Independence was both approved and signed on the same day of July 4th, 1776. Despite the popularity and historical value of John Trumbull’s painting of the signing of the declaration – which depicts all delegates signing the document at once – it’s believed that there was no communal signing. In fact, a biography on John Adams, written by historian David McCullough, claims that no such scenario ever happened. Though some may have signed on the 4th, August 2nd is believed to be the date that a majority of the signatures were added.
The Importance of July 2nd
So, not every holiday falls on the actual day of importance, and Independence Day is no different. On July 2nd, 1776, the Second Continental Congress meeting included a vote on the resolution for independence. Of course, the motion was approved, and though it can be argued that the states became independent from Britain at that moment, it wasn’t until the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress that it became recognized. Therefor, July 2nd is viewed as just another day on the American calendar, despite being the catalyst for the approval of the declaration that is celebrated on July 4th.
The Great Patriotic Import
Flags fly proudly on every Fourth of July and, towards the end of the day, the sky lights up with dazzling spectacles of lights and explosions, but there’s a little bit of irony with those patriotic symbols. According to numbers from the trade commission, a large percentage of both fireworks and American flags are actually imported from China. It was stated in 2011 that 97% of fireworks imported into the United States came directly from China, while 88% of the American flags were… well… also from China. Take a moment to reflect on how silly that sounds, more specifically the import of American flags.
Biggest Hot-Dog Holiday
July 4th in the United States is synonymous with barbecues; and where there is a barbecue, chances are there will also be a hot dog. In 2012, Time Magazine labeled the Fourth of July with a title that so few countries would proudly recognize. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council – yes, that is a real thing – of the 20 billion hotdogs eaten per year in the States, over 155 million of them are consumed on July 4th. So, kudos to American independence being likened to the biggest day for meat byproducts!