By Lauren Burgess
For many, the Fourth of July is the time for fireworks and backyard barbecues. But there are some interesting facts surrounding the 243-year-old holiday you may not know. To help celebrate, here are six facts about one of America’s most cherished holidays that may surprise you.
At some point in your high school history class, you have probably seen the classic painting of all the Founding Fathers and delegates of the Continental Congress huddled around the Declaration of Independence, pens at the ready to sign.
This image is false. The fourth of July is the day that the Declaration was officially adopted by the Continental Congress, and the only people to sign on the fourth were Charles Thompson and John Hancock. The majority of the delegates signed the document on August 2.
The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence took place on July 8, 1776, in Philidelphia’s Independence Square, with music and the ringing of bells as a backdrop. One year later, Philadelphia celebrated Independence Day in much the same way Americans do now– with plenty of music, alcohol, bonfires, and fireworks.
The first state to officially recognize the July 4 as a holiday was Massachusetts on July 3, 1781. However, nearly a century would pass before it would be recognized as a national holiday. Congress passed legislation making July 4 a federal holiday on June 28, 1870.
Three Presidents have died on the Fourth of July. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within a few hours of each other on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. James Monroe, the country’s fifth President, died five years later, on July 4, 1831. Only one President was ever born on the fourth and that was President Calvin Coolidge, born on July 4, 1872.
Around 15,000 firework shows will take this place year to celebrate the Fourth of July. According to data from the American Pyrotechnics Association, revenue from the sale of fireworks could exceed one billion this year.
Americans will consume around 150 million hot dogs this July 4. This is just a small part of the $6.7 billion Americans are expected to spend on food alone. According to the Beer Institute, more alcohol is sold on and around the Fourth of July than any other time during the year. In 2019, Americans are predicted to spend $1.6 billion on beer and around $560 million on wine, bringing the total amount spent on food and drink to almost $9 billion.