If you will be spending this 4th of July with friends and family, you are not alone. Nearly 41 million Americans will spend the holiday at other people’s homes. As you gather around the grill, or are waiting for the fireworks to begin, you can impress your loved ones with these fun but little-known facts about this patriotic day:
- The first 4th of July celebrations in Boston and Philadelphia didn’t actually take place until 1777, one year after the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress.
- July 4th was not declared an official, unpaid federal holiday until 1870. (It would take until 1938 for it to become an official paid federal holiday.)
- John Adams, in a letter to his wife, expressed his belief that July 2 would be the day Americans celebrated their independence from Britain because that was the day Congress voted to sever ties with England. July 4th is the day Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.
- Only two of the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4 – John Hancock and Charles Thompson. The rest signed it on August 2, 1776.
- The average age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest signer was 27 and the oldest, Benjamin Franklin, was 70. Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the original version was 33 years old.
- Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence was lost.
- On the back of the Declaration of Independence it reads, “Original Declaration of Independence dated July 4, 1776.”
- The first published copy of the Declaration of Independence was known as the Dunlap broadside, printed on the night of July 4, 1776. Two hundred copies were made; only 27 of which are currently accounted for.
- The first word in the Declaration of Independence is “when.”
- In 1776, there were 2.5 million Americans. Today there are 318.9 million.
- Thanks to politicians in the 18th and 19th centuries who held campaign rallies on the 4th of July, barbeque—and other outdoor activities—have become a staple of American 4th of July celebrations. (If early Bostonians had had their way, we’d be eating turtle soup!)
- On the 4th of July, Americans consume more than 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken.
- Benjamin Franklin originally suggested the turkey should be the national bird, but was overruled by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who recommended the bald eagle.
Have a happy, and safe, July 4th holiday filled with many opportunities for learning and leading in new and innovative ways.