July 4th commemorates the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence which separated 13 colonies from the British Empire and created a new nation – “The United States of America”. Impress your friends with these 10 fun facts about Independence Day.
1. Most notably there is some dispute over which day should be officially celebrated. John Adams, the 2nd U.S. President, believed that we should hold our celebrations on the day independence was officially declared by the Continental Congress – July 2nd, 1776 . July 4th only serves as the date the declaration was adopted.
2. Three of the first five U.S. Presidents have died on Independence Day, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe. In a further twist of fate, Presidential rivals and declaration signers Adams and Jefferson, both died within 4 hours of each other on July 4th, 1826; the 50th Anniversary of the passing of the declaration of independence.
3. It is often forgotten that technically, at the time of signing, all of the declaration’s signers were British Citizens but only 8 of the 56 signers were actually born in Britain.
4. The first U.S. flag was designed by declaration signer Francis Hopkinson and featured all the stars in a circle to signify equality. Credit for sewing the first “stars and stripes” is often given to Betsy Ross. Legend has it she was asked by George Washington himself (though that story is likely mythical)!
5. The modern American flag was designed for a class project by a high school student from Ohio. Robert G. Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was given a “B-Minus” for his project. A disappointed Heft sent the flag to President Eisenhower who went on the chose the design as the new flag, which was officially adopted in 1960 (his teacher changed his grade to an A!)
6. Benjamin Franklin was unhappy that the bald eagle was chosen as the national bird and wrote that the turkey, being “a truly original native of America”, would have been much more respectable.
7.There were only around 200 printed versions of the Declaration, known as the Dunlap Broadside. Today, only 27 are accounted for. TV producer Norman Lear owns one such copy which he bought at auction for $8.14 million after it was found in the back of a painting bought for $4 at a flea market.
8. Is there something written on the back of the declaration? Yes! The back of the document reads “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776”.
9. The Founding Fathers would not have recited the Pledge. The Pledge of Allegiance did not exist during the lifetimes of the founding fathers. It was written in 1892, over a century after America’s founding.
10. July 4th is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year. According to Time Mazagine 155 million hot dogs will be eaten on July 4th. It is also the date for Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest. Legend has it, the contest began when 4 immigrants held a hot dog eating contest to settle an argument over who was the most patriotic. Whoever eats most hot dogs within 10 minutes wins a cash prize and the Mustard Belt. The current World Record is 69 hot dogs held by Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA, who has won the competition eight times.