Independence Day

Special to the Surveyor

Fireworks, hotdogs and get-togethers are hallmarks of the Fourth of July but the history of the holiday is important for every American to know.

The Continental Congress declared its independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. If that date raises an eyebrow, it should. Independence Day in the United States has long been celebrated on July 4th, which would seem to be two days late. But upon closer examination, it seems Americans are not really celebrating their independence two days later than they should be.

According to the National Constitution Center, the Continental Congress approved a resolution declaring its independence from Great Britain on July 2. However, a document still needed to be drafted to explain the decision to the general public. Such a document was already in the works, but it took two days for the men of Congress to agree on a final version.

The resulting document, known as the Declaration of Independence, was sent to John Dunlap, an Irish printer who served under George Washington during the American Revolutionary War, who subsequently printed roughly 200 broadsides.

Still, the Declaration of Independence was not read to the public until July 8, 1776, when Colonel John Nixon did so in Philadelphia on what is now known as Independence Square. It was nearly a month later, on August 2, 1776, when most members of the Continental Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia

During that first reading on July 8 bells were rung and music from a band played out. A year later in the same city Congress adjourned early and people celebrated with bonfires, bells and fireworks. Now, 242 years later, we are still celebrating our country and our independence in relatively similar way, there are just a lot more of us doing it. In July 1776 there were estimated to be around 2.5 million residents of the United States. Now The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that as of July 1, 2019 there are 331,559,204.

Fourth Facts:

    $6.8 Billion: Amount Americans plan to spend on 4th of July food.

    150 Million: Hot dogs are eaten each 4th of July.

    $1.6+ Billion: Amount we plan to spend on Fourth of July beer and wine.

    $1+ Billion: Amount we’re expected to spend on fireworks in 2019 (67 percent of fireworks injuries occur within a month of July 4).

    $5.4 Million: Value of American flags imported annually (mostly from China).

    47+ Million: People travel 50+ miles from home for the 4th of July.

1941 – Congress made Independence Day a paid federal holiday.

1960 – The year the current American flag design was chosen.

61% of Americans own an American flag.

78% of U.S. adults are extremely or very proud of America’s armed forces.

61% of American’s will attend a July Fourth picnic.

16,000 fireworks displays are held each Fourth of July 2, 2019.

42% decrease in air quality on July Fourth because of fireworks.

90% of U.S. fireworks are imported from China.

150 million hot dogs are consumed each Fourth of July.

74 record number of hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes (Joey Chestnut, 2018).

$568 million – estimated spending on Fourth of July wine.

870 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries each Fourth. 

8 people die from fireworks-related incidents each year.

47 million Americans will travel 50+ miles from home this Fourth of July.

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