The 4th of July is here. It’s time for fireworks, hot dogs, red white and blue, and watching Will Smith punch an alien in the face. Yes that is an Independence Day reference. I dare say you can’t really celebrate the 4th without seeing this classic movie. If you just want to see the clip, you can watch it in all of it’s glory below. Either way don’t read on until you do so, it uh…sets up the rest of what you’ll be reading. Ok maybe not but it is awesome.
[This Clip courtesy of Fandango Movie Clips]
With that out of the way here are 3 Big things you didn’t know about the 4th of July. Share them as some fun trivia with friends today. Enjoy!
1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4th, 1776.
On July 2nd, 1776 a vote was taken and passed by 12 of the 13 colonies whereby Congress officially adopting a position of declaring independence from Britain. However, it took two more days to revise and finalize the language of the Declaration of Independence (July 4th) and another month (August 2nd) for a majority of the 56 delegates to officially sign the document. Harvard research manager Emily Sneff of the Declaration Resources Project adds “It took several months, if not years, for all of the signatures to be added.”
2. Three of the first Five Presidents died on July 4th.
On July 4th, 1826 two of the most famous figures of America’s Independence passed away. An eerie coincidence noticed by many, this date marked the 50th anniversary of the ‘signing’ of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson passed away at the age of 82 at his home in Monticello, Virginia of complications including: “exhaustion from intense diarrhea, toxemia from a kidney infection, uremia from kidney damage, and finally orthostatic old-age pneumonia. He might have lived longer under modern medical care, but likely not much longer if his fundamental problem was a late diagnosed prostatic cancer.” (Thomas Jefferson Foundation) . Likewise, John Adams passed away from congestive heart failure five hours later at the age of 90 at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts. Just five years later, James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, passed away from Tuberculosis at the age of 73 at his son-in-law’s home in New York City. As the New York Evening Post noted on July 5th, 1831 “Three of the four presidents who have left the scene of their usefulness and glory expired on the anniversary of the national birthday, a day which of all others, had it been permitted them to choose [they] would probably had selected for the termination of their careers,”
3. The earliest 4th of July Celebrations included guns, funerals, and a reminder to fight.
Prior to the summer of Independence in 1776, many of the colonists held birthday celebrations in honor of King George III, however after America’s declaration some of the colonists staged some celebrations of a more macabre nature. As a symbol of an independence they would soon fight for, some of the colonists enacted mock funerals for King George III as a symbolic way of celebrating their desired liberty from the King’s monarchy.
John Adams prophetically quipped in a letter to his wife that he saw Independence day (which he argued was July 2nd, not July 4th) as later being “…solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The following year, in the middle of the revolutionary war, the colonies did indeed celebrate with cannons, guns and explosives. Although some saw it as merely a moral boost to the soldiers fighting the British, it no doubt helped fuel the desire to pursue ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. Although the fireworks may not have won the war, it no doubt reinforced the dream of a free America. Fireworks displays have been a tradition ever since, the U.S. Census bureau noted that in 2016 the U.S. spent almost $300 million in fireworks.