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19 Facts About America’s Independence Day

Declaration of Independence with a muzzle loading pistol on top

239 years ago today, our Founding Fathers made the final revisions of our country’s most important document—the Declaration of Independence—declaring America’s independence and freedom from the oppressive rule of the British King George III.

The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Night sky lit up with fireworks and an American flag flying in the foreground.
More than 40,000 firework shells, using 12,000 pounds of black powder will be shot off in New York City tonight.

Though we celebrate the birth of our country’s liberty on July 4, did you know that July 2, 1776 is the actual day the Continental Congress voted on adopting the Declaration of Independence? Further, John Hancock was the only member to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4. The other 55 signatures came later—August 2, 1776 to be exact. These are two of the most widely held misconceptions of the founding of the United States. Following are 19 more fun and interesting facts about the Declaration of Independence and the July 4 holiday you might not know.

  • A committee of five people actually wrote the Declaration of Independence—Thomas Jefferson (of course), Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman… Robert Livingston never signed it.
  • Legend has it that John and Abigail Adams ate turtle soup on the first Independence Day… Today, Americans will eat 155 million hotdogs.
  • After listening to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York City, citizens tore down a statue of King George III. The metal in the statute was later used to make 42,000 musket balls for American soldiers to use in the Revolutionary War.
  • More than 40,000 firework shells, using 12,000 pounds of black powder will be shot off in New York City tonight.
  • Francis Scott Key, who wrote our National Anthem, borrowed the tune from an old English drinking song called “Anacreon in Heaven.”
  • It took the colonists 156 years between landing on American soil to declaring their independence from England.
  • Benjamin Franklin called the Bald Eagle “…a bird of bad moral character” after the Bald Eagle was chosen to be our country’s symbol.
  • John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away on July 4, 1826, the 50th Anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Grand Union Flag was America’s (unofficial) flag on July 4, 1776.
  • The United State’s air strike against Nazi Germany began on July 4, 1942.
  • The Fourth of July wasn’t a national holiday until 1870 when Congress passed a bill recognizing quite a few holidays—including Christmas.
Grand Union flag with red and white stripes, red cross, blue background
The Grand Union flag—America’s flag on July 4, 1776.

For more on Independence Day, our Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence read the following blog posts:

How do you like to display your patriotism? Tell us in the comment section.

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