As a red-blooded, flag-waving, patriotic American, the most important birthday marked on my calendar every year is that of lady liberty (and my mom's). The Fourth has always maintained a special reverence in the hearts of proud Americans, but not everyone is quite as invested in the history as they are in the BBQs, picnics, patriotic music, parades, and fireworks. For those who want a little historical trivia this Independence Day, here are six facts about the 4th of July:
1. Independence Day is celebrated on the wrong day (According to John Adams).
John Adams famously wanted Independence Day celebrated on July 2nd, as that was the day the First Continental Congress voted in favor of declaring its independence from England. Annoyed at this, Adams made it a point to turn down invitations to 4th of July celebrations throughout his life.
2. The only birthday Thomas Jefferson felt worth celebrating was the nation's (supposedly).
Author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously remarked "The only birthday I ever commemorate is that of our Independence, the Fourth of July.”
3. Unlike some holidays, the Fourth was meant to be extravagant and fun from the very beginning.
John Adams said about the Fourth in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that "...It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shews (shows), games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."
4. Two Founding Fathers died on July 4th.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the 4th of July. Adams and Jefferson, who were both signers of the Declaration, were close friends and died only hours apart on July 4th, 1826. Their last words reflected their close friendship, both finding solace in recounting that the other was still alive.
5. The Founders would have thought hamburgers and hotdogs too modest for our country's birthday.
Traditionally, Independence Day fare was more sumptuous than what we are accustomed to. According to John Adams, the ideal 4th of July spread should include turtle soup, New England poached Salmon with egg sauce, green peas, and boiled new potatoes in jackets. For dessert, Adams thought Indian pudding or Apple Pandowdy was most appropriate.
6. Fireworks have always been a staple of the Fourth.
Fireworks have always been present in 4th of July celebrations since the very beginning. Being the place the colonists convened to declare their independence, Philadelphia was, fittingly, the first to commemorate Independence Day festivities with fireworks in 1777.