With July 4th fast approaching, American families are stocking up on fireworks, lighting up the barbecues and getting ready for a fun-filled long weekend. While most the details of July 4th – no, this is not the date when the Americans won the war against Britain, but rather when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress – are covered in history books and seasonal television programs, a few fun facts are lost between the lines. Here are ten fascinating facts about July 4th.
1. Could The Civil War Been Avoided?
The Declaration originally condemned slavery. Yes, that’s right. While most of the world knows the United States as the one civilized country that significantly dug its feet when it came to abolishing slavery and, in fact, had an entire war devoted to it, it’s little known that originally the Declaration was supposed to end it. Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration’s writer, though being a slave owner himself, actually condemned slavery in the Declaration’s first draft, but, after a few debates within Congress, the founders decided to remove the controversial message.
2. July The Cursed?
Does it seem a little odd that quite a few of the very early presidents actually died on July 4th? That’s right – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe, in fact, all passed away on July 4th. To make things even weirder, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, in 1826, which was actually the 50th anniversary of the very first July 4th holiday.
3 Have a Hot Dog!
What’s on the menu for most July 4th celebrators? Hot dogs and beer, apparently! July 4th and the weekends preceding or following it are the biggest sales dates for hot dogs. It’s no wonder July has been named National Hot Dog month! Beer is also a big winner on this week, and beer sales skyrocket past even beer sales associated with the Super Bowl, America’s second-favorite annual event.
3. The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell actually has nothing to do with July 4th or the War for Independence. The iconic Philadelphia symbol is often associated with American freedom and pride, but it didn’t play a single role in the founding of the country, contrary to popular belief. The bell was hung by Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn, at the Pennsylvania State House (which is now Independence Hall). Now, of course, Independence Hall is where the Declaration and Constitution were adopted, but the bell didn’t have anything to do with that. If anything, it was just a witness to the events and, at one time, the early Americans moved it around to protect it from being stolen by British forces. That’s about as far as the bell’s heroic past goes, though.
4. Bald Eagle Vs. Turkeys
Another July 4th and American symbol is the bald eagle, but one of America’s most prominent figures didn’t event want the bird to be considered for the job. Benjamin Franklin, in fact, said that the bird was one of “bad moral character.” His top choice for the symbol of the new United States? The turkey, which he said was a true native to the country and very courageous.
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