10 Facts About the Fourth of July


As everyone is preparing for cookouts, fireworks and family time to celebrate Independence Day, here are a few fun facts about the Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July means red, white and blue and a great occasion to show off your patriotism. But how many of these facts do you know about the big day?

1. It marks the adoption of the final version of the Declaration of Independence.

Hair splitters like to argue that the vote to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. The initial draft was approved that day. The final version was approved two days later. John Hancock was the first to sign the document on July 4, 1776.

2. The first unofficial Independence Day celebration happened on July 8th.

The most famous ringing of the Liberty Bell took place on four days after Hancock signed the document. That was the date the public was summoned to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. So why the 8th instead of the 4th or even the 2nd? It was simple: they had to wait until the finished, approved document was returned from the printer.

3. The first real Independence Day celebration happened on July 4, 1777.

An article dated July 5, 1777, that ran in the Virginia Gazette described the first real celebration of July 4th in Philadelphia. It described “the colours of the United States and streamers” displayed along with a “demonstration of joy and festivity.” Thirteen cannons from ships in the river were fired in honor of the 13 states. There were also fireworks and parades, according to other accounts. That first celebration sounds a lot like the type of celebrations we’re still having.

4. But it didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870.

It took nearly a century for a date so important to our nation’s history to actually become an official federal holiday. But even then, there was a catch: it was an official unpaid holiday. That changed in 1938, when it became a paid federal holiday.

5. It has been a day of 3 presidential deaths…and one birth.

July 4th has been a key date in the lives of four United States presidents, but only one of them was in a good way.

John Adams and Thomas Jeffersons, both signers of the Declaration of Independence, died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826. That date happened to be the 50th anniversary of the country. Then, five years later, James Monroe became the third president to die on July 4th.

Calvin Coolidge, meanwhile, is the only president (so far) to be born on Independence Day, back in 1872.

6. We love our July 4th fireworks.

The country’s largest fireworks display, the Macy’s Fourth of July event, will feature 25 minutes of fireworks and the blasting of more than 75,000 shells. They say it takes about 8,000 hours of planning — that’s nearly a full year. The first Macy’s July 4th fireworks show happened in 1976, the retailer partnered with the Walt Disney Company for the Bicentennial.

There are more than 14,000 fireworks displays across the nation every July 4th, and about 26% of people will set off their own fireworks. (But check your local laws: it’s illegal in some areas.)

7. You might have a hot dog (or three).

Some 150 million hot dogs are consumed each Fourth of July weekend. Picnics and grilling events provide the perfect opportunity. And don’t forget the hot dog eating contests: in 2017, a new record was set: Joey Chestnut somehow ate 72 of them in 10 minutes.

It boggles the mind.

8. You’ll probably gather with your family for a cookout.

Approximately 76% of Americans will get together with family to celebrate the big day. And get this: 80% will attend a cookout.

9. How you should write it depends on your style guide.

As a general rule, I mostly follow Associated Press style on this blog, but this particular holiday is an exception: you’ll see many newspapers writing “July 4th” as July Fourth. That’s because AP Style dictates that ordinal numbers smaller than 10th be spelled out. You’ll see Fourth of July for the same reason. If it’s used as a calendar date, you’ll see the numeral alone: AP Style drops the st, nd, rd or th that would otherwise come after the numeral despite that the dates are read as if those ordinal numbers were there.

10. The day it falls on makes a difference —

Back in 2012, the last time July 4th fell on a Wednesday, Business Insider reported that the mid-week holiday was confusing people who wanted a long weekend to celebrate the occasion.

If you’re lucky enough to have the time available, you could always take the Monday and Tuesday before the Wednesday holiday this year, or the Thursday and Friday after it. There’s nothing like a five-day weekend, right?

We’ll have to endure a Thursday July 4th in 2019. But the holiday falls on a Friday in 2020, and then on Monday in 2021 and 2022, guaranteeing most of us a three-day weekend for three years in a row!

I hope you have a Happy July 4th, no matter when you celebrate it!

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.