Be safe and enjoy the holiday.
To send you off on a fun weekend, here are some interesting facts about the 4th:
1. America didn’t declare its independence on the Fourth of July
Perhaps the greatest misconception of this holiday lies in the name and its equally iconic date. The true “Independence Day” depends on your definition of when such an official declaration was made. It’s widely believed that America’s first Continental Congress declared their independence from the British monarchy on July 4th, 1776. However, the official vote actually took place two days before and the “Declaration” was published in the newspapers on July 4th.
2. John Adams thought ‘the Second of July’ would become Independence Day
John Adams, a Founding Father and future president, wrote to his wife, Abigail, about the events that led to the nation’s founding. In one, he famously predicted, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
3. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t fully signed on the Fourth of July
Another misconception is that when the vote was made official, everyone signed it at that time – a moment that’s often portrayed in popular paintings. However, it took an entire month to get all 56 delegates together to put their “John Hancock” on the document. In fact, the only person to sign the document on July 4th was also its first signer: John Hancock.
4. Three successive presidents died on the Fourth of July
US Presidents, and Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams passed away on July 4th. The even more amazing coincidence is that both died on the same day in the same year of 1826 by a difference of five hours with Jefferson passing first at age 82 and Adams at age 90. Our fifth president, James Monroe, died a few years later on the Fourth in 1831.
5. Calvin Coolidge was born on the Fourth of July
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, was born in 1872 on the Fourth of July in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Malia Obama, our current president’s eldest, was also born on July 4, 1998.
6. The Fourth of July was originally celebrated with a lot of greenery instead of red, white and blue
Fourth of July celebrations these days are filled with fireworks, clothes and ornaments covered in red, white and blue. Such colors weren’t widely available for decoration in the shadow of the nation’s birth, especially in the heat of battle during the Revolutionary War. The first few Independence Day celebrations used greenery as decorations instead. They also fired artillery used in battles following the completion of the war for the Fourth of July, but the practice waned as cannons fell apart and were slowly replaced with fireworks.
7. The USA isn’t the only country to celebrate our independence
Even though the Fourth of July is America’s birthday, we’re not the only ones who celebrate it. Denmark began celebrating our Independence Day in 1912 after thousands of Danes immigrated to the USA. Thousands of Danish Americans and U.S. military personnel stationed in Europe celebrate Independence Day at the annual outdoor festival in Rebild, Denmark. The Danish tourism office bills it as the largest Fourth of July celebration outside the United States.
8. A country gained its independence from the US on the Fourth of July
In 1946, on July 4th, the Philippines gained their full independence from the United States through the Treaty of Manila. However, they celebrate their Independence Day on June 12th which is when they gained independence from Spain in 1898.
9. The song ‘God Bless America’ stayed in Irving Berlin’s rejection pile for 20 years
Irving Berlin was drafted into the military in the early 1900s and helped to draft a musical comedy for his fellow troops in which he composed the song for its final number — a tune inspired by a phrase his Russian mother would often utter after escaping to America from underneath the iron fist of the bloody Russian empire. However, the composer didn’t think it would fit in the show and kept it in his file for 20 years until singer Kate Smith wanted a patriotic song to sing on the radio as war broke out across Europe. The song became one of the most requested patriotic ditties almost overnight and a staple in American songbooks.
10. The modern flag was designed by a high school student as part of a class project
High school student Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was assigned to create a new “national banner” for America that would recognize the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii. Heft simply added two extra stars to the flag to give it an even 50 and stitched his own design. His teacher only gave him a “B-minus” for his effort, so he sent his project to President Dwight D. Eisenhower for consideration and a change of grade. Eisenhower chose his design personally and the new flag was officially adopted in 1960. His teacher changed his grade to an “A”.