The Fourth of July is on Sunday and the United States of America will turn 245 years old! Here are eight fun facts about America’s birthday that might surprise family and friends.
1. We didn’t actually declare independence on the 4th of July. The “Declaration” was published in papers on July 4, 1776, but the official vote actually took place two days before.
2. The designer of the 50-star flag was a 16-year-old in Lancaster, Ohio. In 1958, Robert G. Heft’s history teacher gave a class assignment to redesign the national flag as Alaska and Hawaii became states. Heft designed the flag with $2.87 worth of blue cloth and white iron-on material. His design earned him a B-. He challenged this by sending it to Washington D.C. to be considered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. When his design was selected, his grade was rightfully changed to an A. It became the official flag in 1960.
3. Only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 – John Hancock and Charles Thompson. At 27, Thomas Lynch, Jr., was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence; Ben Franklin, age 70, was the oldest signer. The other 54 delegates signed over the course of the next month.
4. The Declaration of Independence was written on a laptop. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on a writing desk that could fit over one’s lap. This device was referred to at the time as a “laptop.”
5. Fireworks date back as a tradition of Independence Day as early as the first anniversary in 1777. John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that he wanted Independence Day to be celebrated with pomp, parade, shows, and “Illuminations.”
6. Strange 50th Anniversary. Thomas Jefferson, 82, and John Adams, 90, both died on July 4, 1826 within five hours of each other on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
7. Despite the annual celebrations, July 4th was not deemed a federal holiday until 1870, nearly 100 years after the nation was founded.
8. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the majority of the document. He changed the wording of the Declaration of Independence from “the pursuit of property” to “the pursuit of happiness.”
However you pursue happiness this weekend, we wish you a happy and safe 4th of July!