Whether you call it the 4th of July, July 4th or Independence Day, July 4 is a significant date for those of us living in the United States. Most of us know that the holiday itself is the day we recognize the “birth” of the U.S.A. or the anniversary date of July 4, 1776. But sometimes the excitement of all the fireworks might cause us to overlook the history behind the day, which really provides the key to why we celebrate.
A Brief History
While there are many crucial events that led up to July 4, 1776 – chiefly among them the start of the Revolutionary War – everything hinges on that one date. It’s the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress, a group of representatives from the 13 colonies.
The reason this document is so important is because it made a case for the colonists’ secession from the rule of King George and Great Britain, resting on one main argument. Many probably still remember it from school: “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.”
As a result of this very persuasive declaration, and as part of the agreement terms of a Revolutionary War treaty, the document was acknowledged by England, granting the 13 colonies sovereignty. This new gift of freedom was certainly essential for our growth as an independent nation, but it is also the reason July 4 is now recognized as a symbol of freedom on its own.
5 Fast Fascinating Facts
There’s a wealth of potential trivia questions when it comes to the 4th of July holiday, but let’s look at 5 quick facts about the holiday that you probably weren’t aware of.
1. It Was Almost July 2nd – Thomas Jefferson made a case that our independence should have been celebrated on July 2 since that was the day that the colonies officially declared their freedom from England. However, it wasn’t until two days later that the Declaration of Independence was signed and deemed official.
2. There Were Only 2 Signers – because of the famous art surrounding the 4th, many imagine that day in Philadelphia, 1776, as a large group of men crowded around one document to add their “John Hancock”. But John Hancock was only one of two men that actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4. The rest of the 56 members of the Continental Congress added their signatures in the following weeks.
3. We Are Not Alone – many other countries around the world also celebrate the 4th of July. As a way to honor many of the citizens that emigrated to the United States (but also for tourism reasons), the holiday is observed by England, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Of course, our neighbors to the north, Canada, celebrate their independence on July 1, also known as Canada Day.
4. Death Takes No Holidays – there have been three United States Presidents that have passed away on July 4 – two of which had signed the Declaration of Independence – best friends Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Our fifth president, James Monroe, died exactly five years later.
5. That’s A Lot of Hot Dogs – according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume around 150 million hot dogs annually during Independence Day celebrations. Many believe this tradition was partially inspired by Nathan’s Famous July 4 Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York. In fact, the founder of Nathan’s – Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker – thought of himself as one of the most patriotic Americans on the planet.
In addition to chowing down on hot dogs, there are quite a few other 4th of July traditions that Americans participate in. And since the 4th falls on a Monday this year (2022), that means it’s an extra-long weekend for many, giving them plenty of time to celebrate our country’s birthday. Here are a few of the most popular patriotic pastimes:
– Watching fireworks
– Family picnics and cookouts
– Local parades and boating festivals
– Wearing red, white and blue
– Hanging American flags
Outdoor concerts and movies How are you spending your 4th of July holiday this year? If you don’t have plans yet, we hope today’s blog provided a little inspiration. And don’t forget that The Bradford Exchange has a star-spangled selection of patriotic gifts that are perfect for Independence Day, and for any day you want to show off some American pride.Why Do We Celebrate the 4th of July? Independence Day 101 by The Bradford Exchange