Independence Day has a special place in my heart. The American Revolution was the core area of focus of my bachelors degree and is a passion that has continued post-collegiate studies. I’m so enamored by the romance of the time. People giving passionate, eloquent speeches about liberty and unalienable rights – ugh! I just gets me! Some of my favorite movies and tv shows center around this time (have you seen Turn?!) I eat up books and articles on the subject (always accepting recommendations). As a result, I love celebrating this amazing act of treason every year. Today, in honor of this glorious day, I’m sharing with you 7 fun Independence Day facts.
- July 4, 1776 wasn’t what you think it was. Independence from Britain was actually declared on July 2, 1776 but the language of the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress two days later. The document wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776 with the last signature being added on November 4, 1776 by a representative from New Hampshire.
- The Revolutionary War had only just begun. On July 4, 1776, war had been raging between the Patriots and Red Coats for a little over a year. The war continued for seven more years! * Bonus Trivia: The “American Revolution” does not refer to the fighting that occurred, but rather the philosophical changes among the residents of the colonies against the King and British government. The fighting is referenced as the Revolutionary War or War for Independence.
- The Declaration of Independence was enacted to save their heads. Congress had been formally declared traitors by the British government. Facing charges of treason, these men drafted a document to immediately separate themselves from the King and thus, the legal authority of the British to execute them. Ironically enough, the act of signing the document was the ultimate treasonous offense.
- John Hancock was in charge. Everyone knows John Hancock for his large signature on the Declaration. However, did you also know that he was the first signature on the document because he was the President of the Continental Congress?
- Robert R. Livingston sent a proxy to sign the Declaration. Livingston was a member of the Committee of Five, the five men who were responsible for drafting the Declaration. He was a representative from New York but before he could sign the document, he was recalled by his state. His cousin Philip Livingston signed in his place.
- The first public reading of the Declaration was on July 8, 1776. The Liberty Bell was used to summon the public to Independence Square to hear Colonel John Nixon read the text of the Declaration. At the time, Nixon was militarily responsible for the protection of the city of Philadelphia and would later serve directly under George Washington.
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on a significant day. Adams and Jefferson were both members of the Committee of Five and eventually US Presidents. Even more interesting is they had a deep friendship that was often tumultuous due to their differing political views. However, remarkably so, Adams and Jefferson both passed away… on Independence Day 1826. True story! They both passed on July 4, 1826 – the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence
“My, Jen, those were quite interesting facts.”
I know! Share these with your friends over hot dogs and drinks (domestic only!) this holiday weekend!
Finally, for your viewing enjoyment… OneRepublic’s classic “Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration”.