5 Fascinating Facts About Independence Day

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...

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Congress Didn't Actually Vote For Independence On July 4 It is widely believed that America’s first Continental Congress declared its independence from the British monarchy on July 4th, 1776. However, the official vote actually took place two days before on July 2nd.  In a letter that John Adams wrote on July 3, 1777, to Abigail, his wife, he predicted that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”   Adams famously insisted the annual celebration of independence be held July 2, not July 4, and refused to attend any events on July 4.

Most Delegates Didn’t Sign The Declaration of Independence Until August It is often believed that everyone signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, a moment that’s often portrayed in popular paintings. However, it took an entire month to get all 56 delegates together to put their “John Hancock” on the document. Historians disagree on the precise order of the signing, but it seems most signatories didn’t put their names on the document until August 2. In fact, the only person believed to sign the document on July 4th was also its first signer: John Hancock.

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"The Pursuit of Property"? Arguably the most famous line in the Declaration of Independence is the second sentence of the preamble, which begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But as originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the pursuit was not of happiness, but of “Property.” As the story goes, Benjamin Franklin convinced Jefferson to make the change because “property” was too “narrow” a notion.

Americans East More Hot Dogs on July 4 Than Any Other Day Hot dogs are a popular item on the 4th of July menu, and Americans eat around 150 million of them to celebrate America’s independence. That’s enough hot dogs to lay end to end from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. around five times. Nathan’s holds their annual contest to see who can eat the most hot dogs on July 4, and Joey Chestnut, a California competitive eater, who downed 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes, won the competition in 2020.

July 4 Is The Biggest Day Of The Year For Fatal Car Accidents It's a good idea to be extra cautious while driving today. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, each Independence Day has seen an average of 118.4 persons killed in traffic accidents over the last five years, making it the most deadly day of the year. The Fourth of July was exceptionally dangerous for motorcyclists, with an average of 25.8 deaths reported, more than double the daily national average of 12.1 deaths.