On July 4, 1776, the American colonies were declared free of British rule by the Second Continental Congress with the passage of the Declaration of Independence. Here are 5 things you didn't know about Independence Day...
Independence Day May Have Been Meant to Be Celebrated on July 2 The Second Continental Congress agreed to a motion made by Richard Henry Lee, which called for the independence of the 13 colonies from Great Britain. Although the Congress did not approve the Declaration until two days later on July 4th, this may not have been the date the Founding Fathers were thinking of as one of celebration. In a letter that John Adams wrote on July 3, 1777, to Abigail, his wife, he said that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
Three American Presidents Died on Independence Day James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams all passed away on the 4th, and Jefferson and Adams passed away within a few hours of each other in 1826. Their deaths occurred 50 years after the date that the Second Continental Congress passed the Declaration. America’s fifth president, James Monroe, passed away on the same day five years later.
The Liberty Bell Did Not Ring on July 4, 1776 Although Congress passed the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd and it is formally celebrated on the 4th, the Liberty Bell did not ring out to announce it until July 8th. This is because the document had been sent to the printers after its passage so that it could be distributed. The Liberty Bell rang out in celebration of America’s independence as it was read aloud to Philadelphia citizens.
Fireworks Have Been a 4th of July Tradition Since 1777 In the city of Philadelphia in 1777, a cannon was fired 13 times to represent the 13 American colonies, and the city celebrated on the city commons that night by firing off 13 fireworks. Since then, the celebration has grown around the country with everything from spectacular fireworks displays to children waving sparklers in their front yards. In 1934, the 4th was even celebrated in Antarctica when an explorer set off a fireworks display even though the temperature was -33 degrees Fahrenheit.
During World War II, the Declaration Was Stashed Safely Away at Fort Knox. During World War II, the Declaration Was Stashed Safely Away at Fort Knox.Following the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, the Declaration, along with the U.S. Constitution, was removed from Washington, D.C. for safety. The two documents traveled with a contingent of armed guards and were packed in special padlocked containers that were lead sealed and put into an even larger box. With additional protection supplied by the Secret Service, the documents were taken by train to Louisville, Kentucky, and escorted by 13th Armored Division cavalry troops to Fort Knox.