Little Known Facts About the Fourth

It's Independence Day!!! We know it's a celebration of freedom. In this USA today article, there are a few things that aren't so obvious. Here are a few of the 9 from the article:

1. Congress didn't actually vote for independence on July 4. 

Twelve of thirteen states approved a resolution for independence on July 2, not July 4, when the declaration was actually adopted. New York didn't vote until July 9. Many of the signers didn't attach their names to the document until August 2. 

John Adams famously insisted the annual celebration of independence be held July 2, not July 4, and refused to attend any events on the latter day. 

2. The Fourth of July didn't become an official holiday until over a century after America declared its independence. 

In 1776, John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that American independence should be celebrated with “pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

Though early celebrations began the following year, the Fourth of July wasn't designated a federal holiday until 1870. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for federal employees. 

3. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington gave his soldiers a special treat for the holiday. 

On July 4, 1778, George Washington ordered a double ration of rum for his soldiers. He also ordered a cannon salute to celebrate the occasion. 

Drinking was a large part of historical Fourth of July celebrations — it was traditional to drink 13 toasts, one for each state in the union. 

4. In a bizarre coincidence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 — the nation's 50th birthday. 

Check out the details of this coincidence and the rest of the list here:


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