Before you fire up the grill and whip up some delicious burgers, creative hot dogs and stunning summer salads this July 4th, check out these little-known facts about the holiday and America itself. We’ve included Fourth of July trivia that can be shared with friends and family that will certainly have them impressed with your history knowledge (kids will especially love learning about the day). For starters, did you know that Independence Day was once celebrated on July 5? Exactly! You’ll also learn a little bit about traditions around the holiday, including how much Americans tend to spend on fireworks this time of year.
So once you figure out your 4th of July activity, plan your perfect patriotic playlist and pick out the best Instagram caption for all of your BBQ pictures, be sure to memorize some of these fun facts and trivia.
Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence.
There were four others on the drafting committee: Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Robert Livingston.
John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Likely because he was the President of Congress at the time, he signed in a large hand and at the center of the document, according to the National Archives. His bold signature is where we get the phrase “put your John Hancock” when referring to signing your name.
Independence Day should have been celebrated on July 2, 1776.
Although the document was dated July 4, congress actually voted for independence from Great Britain two days prior on July 2, 1776. It apparently wasn’t signed by everyone until a month later on August 2, 1776.
John Adams wrote a letter to his wife about how memorable Independence Day would be in American history…
… but he thought it was celebrated on the wrong day.
In fact, he was known to turn down invitations to 4th of July celebrations in protest. In his correspondence to his wife, Abigail Adams, he only referred to Independence Day as July 2nd.
The ‘Pennsylvania Evening Post’ was the first newspaper to print the Declaration.
It came out in the newspaper on July 6, 1776 for everyone to see, after a local printer named John Dunlap produced copies of the declaration’s manuscript.
An estimated 2.5 million people lived in the nation in July 1776.
As of July 2021, about 331.8 million people live in the U.S., according to the United States Census.
Three presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence died on July 4.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 — on the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence. James Monroe died five years later on July 4, 1831.
The Liberty Bell rings 13 times every Independence Day to honor the 13 original states.
Descendants of people who signed the Declaration of Independence tap the bell, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 2 p.m. eastern time every 4th of July.
Independence Day was once celebrated on July 5.
The holiday fell on a Sunday in 1779, so the country celebrated on July 5th instead.
The very first 4th of July fireworks show took place in Philadelphia in 1777.
Fireworks, canons and bells all went off to honor the 13 original states. Much like modern celebrations, they even had a dinner and parade for the Declaration of Independence’s first anniversary.
U.S. soldiers got a special treat on the 4th of July in 1778.
Americans spend over $1 billion on fireworks every year.
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the numbers continue to go up every year. The biggest celebration is the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show, which takes over 8,000 hours to prepare!
4th of July sales have been a thing for a while.
According to Live Science, it was seen as unpatriotic if you kept your business open on Independence Day before the Civil War. But after, restaurants and stores starting having sales on red, white and blue merchandise and they’ve continued to ever since.
There are 33 places in the United States with the word “liberty” in their names.
According to the U.S. Census, four of them are counties — Georgia, Florida, Montana and Texas have a Liberty County.
Calvin Coolidge was the only president born on the 4th of July.
That probably helped his presidential campaign, right?
It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870.
It took nearly 100 years for it to be recognized as such, but when it finally happened it was up in the ranks with Christmas and a few other holidays.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed in Philadelphia.
The Constitution was signed in September of 1787, a little over 11 years after the Declaration of Independence. While both are important to U.S. history, they are totally separate documents with different meanings.
Thomas Jefferson believed that a new Constitution should be written every19 years.
In a letter to James Madison, he asked if “one generation of men has the right to bind another,” saying that otherwise “the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be the reverse of our principle”.
Americans eat around 150 million hot dogs each Independence Day.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which they call ‘peak hot dog season’, Americans consume around 7 billion hot dogs. That means that 818 are being consumed every second. Producers estimate that during July, which is designated National Hot Dog Month, 10% of annual retail hot dog sales occur. That’s a lot of hot dogs
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