Dr. Joe grilling some duck to celebrate the holiday.
Happy Independence Day! Have fun celebrating with family and friends – and as always, we hope you #eatmoreduck!
“Grab your oversized American flag-themed T-shirt and a fistful of sparklers and get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July! To get you excited about America’s birthday, we’ve assembled a list of fascinating and little-known facts about Independence Day, starting with this doozy:
1. July Fourth Should Really Be July Second
One of the most enduring myths and misconceptions about Independence Day is that the Declaration of Independence was approved and signed on July 4, 1776. In fact the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the resolution to legally separate from Great Britain on July 2, two days earlier. The approved Declaration of Independence was first printed on July 4, so that’s the date on the document.
The final “engrossed” Declaration of Independence wasn’t finished for weeks, and the delegates didn’t sign it until Aug. 2, 1776. Even then, not all delegates were in attendance, so some signed later. But what about that famous John Trumbull painting of all the delegates signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4? That patriotic scene, printed on the back of the $2 bill, took place on June 28, 1776, when the Founding Fatherspresented the first rough draft of the document to the Second Continental Congress.
John Adams was so excited about the revolutionary events of July 2, 1776, that the very next day he wrote his wife Abigail that their “Day of Deliverance” from Britain “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
Miffed by the switch to July 4, Adams would reportedly turn down Fourth of July party invitations.
2. Fireworks Flew at the First Fourth
Americans wasted no time in celebrating the first Independence Day on July 4, 1777, even though the Revolutionary War wouldn’t be won until 1783. Taking a cue from John Adams’ call for “Bonfires and Illuminations,” a wartime Congress adjourned in Philadelphia to light up the night with fireworks. Similar pyrotechnic celebrations were held in Boston.
According to the Philadelphia Evening Post, “The evening was closed with the ring of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated… Everything was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal.”
In addition to the rockets, which would have been relatively crude in the 18th century, there were also raised platforms with fizzing fireworks that displayed patriotic images like the profile of George Washington.
3. And Plenty of Gunfire, Too
In addition to fireworks, military cannons and live gunfire were a big part of early Fourth of July festivities. It’s important to remember that the United States was at war with Great Britain on and off until 1815, when America finally won the War of 1812. Fourth of July celebrations would have served as military morale-boosters for wearied soldiers and citizens.
Ear-splitting cannon blasts and artillery salutes during Fourth of July continued into the mid-19th century, when leftover weaponry fell into disrepair and concern for public safety won the day, leaving only the fireworks.
4. The Stars & Stripes Were There for the First Fourth of July
On June 14, 1777, less than a month before the very first Independence Day celebration, the Continental Congress passed a resolution creating America’s first official flag: “Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Did Betsy Ross sew the very first American flag under orders from George Washington? Probably not. But since the new flag was at least in circulation by June 1777, then it would likely have made an appearance at those first July 4 festivities in Philadelphia and Boston.
There have been 27 different official versions of the U.S. flag since that first one in 1777 due to the addition of stars for each new state. Not coincidentally, the current 50-star flag debuted on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became a state in 1959.
5. Massachusetts Was First to Recognize July 4 as a Holiday
Nearly 90 years before the Fourth of July would be recognized as a federal holiday, the Massachusetts legislature called for an official state celebration in 1781 to recognize “the anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.”