The 4th of July, or Independence Day, has been a celebration recognizing the birth of American Independence. We all know that, but what are some other interesting facts about the holiday that may have escaped you? Some of them may surprise you.
A brief refresher in history is in order to remember how the holiday even came about. It all started with that little thing called the American Revolution. Thirteen representatives of the colonies fighting in the war met in June of 1776 to decide about declaring their independence from Great Britain.
On June 7, 1776, there was a heated debate on the issue. The Continental Congress was unable to agree on a resolution introduced by Richard Henry Lee, who was representing Virginia. A vote was postponed, and a five-member committee was formed to draft a document that would justify the colonial break with Great Britain. The group consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted for independence unanimously (but it took New York a little time to vote in agreement). On July 4th, the delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence. Now that the history refresher is out of the way, we can get on to some other interesting facts about Independence Day.
Even though the vote for independence took place on July 2nd, the holiday was recognized to occur on the 4th of July. The reason was because the document wasn’t completely written and printed until the 4th.
John Adams believed the July 2nd date was the actual date of independence and protested the July 4th date by not accepting invitations to events on that day.
The Liberty Bell didn’t ring on July 4th, 1776. It was rung instead on July 8, 1776, to mark the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Some colonists held mock funerals of King George III to represent the break from the monarchy during celebrations of the day.
The first official holiday was held on July 4, 1777. The new nation was still at war, but Congress authorized the use of fireworks in celebrating the holiday.
George Washington gave double rations of rum to the soldiers to mark the holiday in 1778.
Massachusetts became the first state to make the 4th of July an official state holiday in 1781.
Three U.S. presidents have died on the holiday. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died just a few hours apart on July 4, 1826 — the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence — and James Monroe died on July 4th, 1831.
The U.S. didn’t make the 4th of July a federal holiday until 1870, and it wasn’t until 1941 that Congress approved July 4th as a paid holiday to federal employees.
More than 14,000 firework displays take place on the 4th of July across the country.
The largest fireworks display is the Macy’s Fourth of July Spectacular in New York City. The display uses 75,000 lbs of fireworks and lasts about thirty minutes. Approximately 2 million people attend the celebration.
The City of George, Washington, celebrates the Fourth of July every year by baking what they call the World’s Largest Cherry Pie. The title did go to George, Washington, in 2012, but it has since been eclipsed by a town in Canada — Oliver, British Columbia.
In 2018, in Phoenix, Arizona, volunteers stayed with the animals at the Maricopa County Animal and Control shelter to comfort the dogs and cats during the Fourth of July fireworks display in the city. The program was called “Calming Companions.”
In 2012, the City of Boston celebrated the Fourth of July with confetti cannons meant for another occasion. The confetti cannons had originally been intended for a New England Patriots Super Bowl Champions parade, but the team didn’t win that year.
The Liberty Bell is symbolically tapped 13 times by descendants of the Declaration of Independence signers on the Fourth of July at 2 PM Eastern time to commemorate the original 13 colonies.
On July 4, 1850, President Zachary Taylor attended a fund-raising event at the Washington Monument, which was under construction. It was reported that he ate large amounts of raw fruit and drank iced milk while at the event. In the days following, he became ill with an unknown digestive ailment, which ultimately caused his death on July 9, 1850, at the age of 65.
The largest 4th of July celebration outside of the United States takes place in Denmark and has been since 1912. The Danes have regarded it as a special holiday celebrating American Independence. It was first suggested by Dr. Max Henius, a Danish-American, in 1909 to be a Danish-American Day, and July 4th was chosen. It takes place in Rebild National Park, which was purchased and gifted to the Danish government specifically to celebrate American Independence every year. The celebration is also considered a homecoming for Danish-Americans.
The 4th of July has always been a gastronomical event, but the effects of how much food and beverages are consumed can stick with people well after the celebrations. Here’s a reason why, and hold on to your stomach. It’s estimated that 150 million hot dogs are consumed during the July 4th holiday. That’s roughly 18 million pounds of hot dogs. But buns are needed, so that requires 18.75 million packages of 8-count buns to cradle those hot dogs.
Now, after consuming all those hot dogs, how much did people eat? A hot dog is approximately 137 calories, so around 20.55 billion calories are consumed of just hot dogs (buns excluded) during the celebrations on July 4th. A good walk or run on a treadmill is definitely in order.