Celebrating in red, white and blue with a backyard barbecue? Share these 14 facts to bring a little history to your Fourth of July festivities.
- July 2, 1776, is the day that the Continental Congress actually voted for independence from Great Britain. John Adams even noted that July 2 would be remembered and marked with fireworks and celebrations.
- Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was then edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. It took him 17 days.
- The final draft was adopted on July 4, 1776, but the final document was signed on August 2, 1776.
- The Declaration was signed by 56 men.
- Benjamin Franklin was the oldest to sign at age 70.
- Two future presidents signed: John Adams (second president), and Thomas Jefferson (third president). Both died on the 50th anniversary of the signing (July 4, 1826), within hours of each other.
- There are 12 counties nationwide named Adams and 26 named Jefferson.
- In July 1776, there were an estimated 2.5 million people living in the newly independent nation. Today there are more than 325 million.
- The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both debated and signed in Independence Hall, in Philadelphia. The building was originally called the Pennsylvania State House.
- The Constitution, which wasn’t written until 1787, outlines our form of government and explains what kinds of laws we can make. The Declaration is more about the ideals of our country.
- On the Declaration’s first anniversary, citizens in Philadelphia had a spontaneous Fourth of July celebration complete with fireworks. But it wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that observing Independence Day became common.
- Actress Reese Witherspoon is a direct descendant of John Witherspoon, one of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, according to the National Archives.
- Congress passed a law making Independence Day a Federal holiday on June 28, 1870.
- The United States has a long tradition of barbecues as a form of social gathering. In fact, George Washington wrote in his diaries about the many barbecues he attended or hosted.
QuickFact: The Statue of Liberty is made of copper 3/32 in. (2.4 millimeters) thick, the same as two U.S. pennies put together. The tablet she holds in her left hand reads JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (in Roman numerals), which is “July 4th, 1776.”
Have a safe and happy Independence Day.