To put you in the mood as you gear up for tomorrow’s day celebrating the US’ Declaration of Independence, we’ve collected some trivia you may or may not know about the Fourth July!
1. Although the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, most of the 56 delegates from the Thirteen Colonies did not actually sign the Declaration until August 2, 1776.
2. The Committee of Five (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert B. Livingston and Benjamin Franklin) were appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. “Knowing Jefferson’s prowess with a pen, Adams urged him to author the first draft of the document, which was then carefully revised by Adams and Franklin before being given to Congress for review on June 28 ,” according to History.com. At 70, Franklin was the oldest of the delegates to eventually sign the Declaration (Edward Rutledge, at 26, was the youngest).
3. Adams and Jefferson would eventually become the second and third Presidents of the United States, respectively. The two political figures also each died on a July 4th and in the same year: 1826. James Monroe, the fifth President of the US, also died on a July 4th in 1831; and President Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the US, was born on a July 4th in 1872.
4. You’ve probably heard the expression John Hancock meaning signature as in “Can I have your John Hancock please?” This stems from John Hancock, who was the President of the Congress and is credited as being the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. His signature is larger than the others on the document. Legend has it that Hancock, after signing, stated something like: “There, I guess King George will be able to read that!”
5. The Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island is known as the oldest, and possibly largest in the country. First established in 1785, it has only not happened five times. Hopefully this year Hurricane Arthur will not impede the town’s longstanding Fourth of July celebrations. Participants in the parade range from military, first responders, like police and fire fighters to historic interpreters, bands and community groups.
6. Gatlinburg, Tennessee kick starts Fourth of July festivities with its annual parade beginning at the strike of midnight. This year’s theme honors military men and women. “Retired Army Staff Sergeant Heath Calhoun will be the Grand Marshal riding on the Rocky Top Sports World float,” states the parade’s website. “Calhoun is a wounded warrior who competed in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Also featured in the parade will be the 100th Army Military Band and members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.”
7. The Coney Island Fourth of July tradition—Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest—is said to have begun on July 4th, 1916. Whether legend or fact, it’s often said four immigrants arguing over who was most patriotic, engaged in such a competition, and Irishman James Mullen won with eating 13 hotdogs in 12 minutes. Joey Chestnut is the seven-time defending champion in the men’s category (last year he ate 69 dogs in 10 minutes—a new world record); Sonya Thomas is the third-time defending champion in the women’s category who ate 36¾ hotdogs last year.