10 Facts About the Fourth of July

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Although we celebrate independence from Great Britain on July 4, the Continental Congress actually declared the United States free on July 2, 1776. The fourth was the day that Congress sent the approved Declaration of Independence to printer John Dunlap to make 200 copies, according to constitutioncenter.com. The Fourth of July wasn’t made a federal holiday until June 28, 1870.

The holiday is more than just a day off from work. It is a time for the nation to come together and celebrate all that we are and all that we have been. Here are a few additional facts – both fun and historical — about the day.

1. Great Britain didn’t get a copy of the Declaration of Independence until November 1776, and the Revolutionary War fighting didn’t actually end until September 3, 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed.

2. Americans will consume 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July according to hot-dog.org.

3. An African American was the most successful Revolutionary War spy. According to battlefields.org, James Armistead Lafayette played the role of a runaway slave to gain access to General Cornwallis’s headquarters. As a result, Armistead accomplished what few spies could, he got direct access to the center of the British War Department.

4. A 17-year-old boy designed the updated American flag when Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union. In 1958, Robert G. Heft sewed together a design for the new flag as a history class assignment, according to starspangledflags.com. He was given a B- for his effort. He challenged the grade by sending it to Washington D.C. to be considered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Once the flag was selected, Heft’s grade was rightfully changed to an A. His design became the official flag in 1960.

5. Celebratory fireworks date back to 1777. In 2023, consumer fireworks revenue totaled $2.2 billion, according to americanpyro.com.

6. History.com notes that, “Thomas Jefferson, 82, and John Adams, 90, both died on July 4, 1826… the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”

7. Many Americans toast the holiday with beer. According to WalletHub, an estimated $4 billion is spent on alcoholic beverages on Independence Day, most of it beer.

8. Hamilton was not the first play to teach history about the country’s Founding Fathers. In fact, 1776 was written by a former history teacher about the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence. It opened during the Vietnam War and was expected to fail due to the tensions of the war, but it was instead a massive success.

9. Since 1924, Bend, Oregon has celebrated 4th of July with an annual Pet Parade. This year will mark the 100th anniversary of this beloved event.

10. There is an ‘official’ Fourth of July city. In 1979, Congress named Seward, Nebraska, “America’s Official Fourth of July City-Small Town USA.” Even though only 6,000 people live there, over 40,000 come to the town’s celebration — which is largely run by high school students, reports goodhousekeeping.com.

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