Independence Day – the 4th of July – is inarguably one of the most important dates on the US calendar. It’s the date when Americans celebrate their independence, funnily enough, from England. It’s a huge celebration which takes place from coast to coast. Expect street parties, fireworks and more besides! But how much do you actually know? Let’s unpack the occasion with 16 interesting facts about US Independence Day
Independence Day was first celebrated by chief of staff at the White House back in 1801. It’s been a staple celebration there – and elsewhere in the country – ever since.
However, independence actually happened a few years before this date. Independence for the American states was declared as of the 4th of July in 1776. This separated the US from Great Britain and its rule.
The 4th of July didn’t actually become an official holiday until 1870. This had to pass through Congressional law and declaration, of course!
However, that didn’t stop people from celebrating with fireworks and displays before this date, It’s thought that people were starting to celebrate in this way as early as 1777.
The Declaration of Independence is, of course, the important document that helped to set wheels in motion. This was a formal letter drawn up and sent to the British Monarchy to demand separation. Thankfully, the request was heeded.
Thomas Jefferson, who would later be President of the USA – the third, in fact – was responsible for drafting the document.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by men of all ages. At least, the youngest signer was 27 years old, and the oldest was 70. The oldest, in fact, was Benjamin Franklin!
Initially, the stars for all the states on the first independent US flag were arranged in a circle. But why was this? It was to try and show that all states were considered equal. Of course, this depiction changed over time, and it may have been as a result of the hassle of trying to squeeze 50 states into a round circle!
Independence Day is a time for families to gather and for classic American foods and recipes to be eaten. However, hot dogs seem to have a huge place in the yearly celebrations. It’s thought that around 150 million hot dogs will be sold and eaten in the US alone on the 4th of July each year.
Independence Day is, of course, marked with the waving and hoisting of US flags across the nation. However, did you know that there are millions imported from overseas? In fact, it’s thought that China made $3.6 million from US flag imports in 2012 alone.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by more than just Jefferson and a few representatives. In fact, the document benefits from up to 56 different signatures. It covered 13 different colonies, too.
Not all signers of the Declaration were educated men. However, around an eighth of those who placed their names on the document were Harvard graduates!
The Liberty Bell remains a huge staple and symbol of US independence. However, it is only tapped each July 4th – not rung! It receives 13 taps for each of the original colonies, as is tradition.
Of course, with independence, comes all kinds of new national standards. One of the squabbles that faced the new organisation was what should be named the official national bird! It’s thought that – before anyone could decide on the bald eagle being the eventual symbol – Benjamin Franklin actually suggested that they use the turkey! An altogether different kind of bird, of course!
Liberty is a word which, of course, has strong connections and connotations with Independence Day. In fact, there are plenty of places across the US which include the word in their names. It’s thought that there are just less than 60 specific areas in the US which make use of the term.
There have been thousands of different 4th of July celebrations and traditions set up over the decades. However, the parade you’ll find in Bristol, Rhode Island, is over 230 years old. Not a bad tradition to keep rolling forward if you can!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about independence day? Share them here in the comments section below!