Who doesn’t love fireworks, bonfires, and barbecues? July 4th is full of fun, but how much do you know about this patriotic holiday? These interesting 4th of July facts are perfect for sharing with kids of all ages. They make a great mini history lesson at school or at home.
1. The Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776.
Despite John Adams wanting the holiday to be celebrated on July 2, that’s not the day we celebrate our nation’s independence. We celebrate on July 4th since it was the day the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted.
2. President Zachary Taylor died in 1850 after eating spoiled fruit following 4th of July speeches.
Taylor was a military leader before serving briefly as president from 1849 to 1850. Following his death, Vice President Millard Fillmore became president. Read more about Taylor’s death here.
3. In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to declare the 4th of July an official state holiday.
Despite it’s early adoption as a state holiday, July 4th wasn’t declared a Federal holiday until 1941.
4. The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped 13 times every July 4th in honor of the original 13 colonies.
The Liberty Bell explicitly states its purpose with an inscription that reads “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.” As a result, it has stood as a symbol of freedom for groups championing civil rights. Learn more about the Liberty Bell by watching this read-aloud video.
5. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826.
This is one of the most ironic 4th of July facts. These two famous signers of the Declaration of Independence both died on its 50th anniversary. James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, would later die on July 4, 1831. Watch this fun video to see animated versions of Adams and Jefferson battle it out in a 4th of July trivia game.
6. Calvin Coolidge is the only president that was born on the 4th of July.
Coolidge served as governor of Massachusetts and vice president before being elected president in 1923. Watch this video to learn more about the 30th president of the United States.
7. Americans spend more than $1 billion on fireworks annually.
Though large, that number includes both personal and public purchases. This fun video explains how fireworks work!
8. The Star Spangled Banner became the United States’ national anthem in 1931.
The ballad was written by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814. Listen to the full song here while reading the lyrics.
9. Bristol, Rhode Island, was home to the first 4th of July parade in 1785.
Today, Bristol hosts an annual celebration that begins on Flag Day and commences with a parade on July 4th.
10. Coney Island, New York, hosts a famous, televised hot-dog-eating contest every year on July 4th.
Multiple-time champion Joey Chestnut holds the hot-dog-eating record at 76 hot dogs in just 10 minutes! For more information on the history of this long-standing tradition, watch this video.
11. The Philippines also celebrates their independence on July 4th.
After falling under Japanese control during World War II, the U.S. and Filipino forces fought together to regain control. They gained their independence on July 4, 1946. Watch this video to learn more about the Philippines’ Republic Day.
12. George Washington celebrated the July 4th holiday by giving his soldiers a double ration of rum.
Soldiers often went days without food despite supposed daily rations. Read more about army rations during the Revolutionary War here.
13. Guidelines for flag etiquette, including rules for the 4th of July, can be found in the U.S. Flag Code.
If you’re looking for 4th of July facts about flag etiquette, here’s one to share. Congress passed a joint resolution on June 22, 1942, to establish the U.S. Flag Code. Read more about flag etiquette here.
14. Our neighbors to the north celebrate Canada Day just three days prior to our Independence Day celebration.
Canadians celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution Act on July 1. The Act joined three territories together in 1867 therefore establishing the single nation of Canada. Watch these cute kids explain more about Canada and Canada Day in this video.
15. Edward Rutledge was the youngest person to sign the Declaration of Independence at 26 years old, while Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at 70 years old.
When people think of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, they likely think of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. In total, however, there were 56 signers. Follow this link to see the complete list by state.
16. There are more than 314 million people living in the United States today, but there were just 2.5 million in 1776.
Each year, the Census Bureau uses information on births, deaths, and migration to calculate the U.S. population. Watch this video for an explanation of how the census is calculated and why it is important.
17. Hospitals have an influx of patients each July 4th as a result of fireworks-related mishaps.
Close to 16,000 people were hospitalized with fireworks-related injuries in 2020. Anyone planning to use fireworks at home should be sure to learn proper safety protocol beforehand.
18. On July 6, 1776, the Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence.
Published by Benjamin Towne, the Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first daily newspaper in the United States. Follow this link to see the front page of this newspaper from July 6, 1776.
19. Prior to the Civil War, it was deemed unpatriotic for business owners to keep their establishments open on July 4th.
It has since become more acceptable for business to remain open on the holiday. Many businesses even run special sales to commemorate the day.
20. There have been 27 versions of the U.S. flag.
The original flag featured 13 stars and stripes for the 13 colonies. Today’s version of the flag came to be following the addition of a 50th star in 1960 to represent Hawaii.
21. At least 30 places in the United States contain the word “liberty” in their name.
Florida, Georgia, Montana, and Texas each have a Liberty County. The largest city is Liberty, Missouri, with a population of 29,000. Follow this link for a map of all the Liberty locations in the United States.
22. Americans consume approximately 150 million hot dogs every July 4th.
The hot dogs eaten on Independence Day would stretch all the way from D.C. to L.A. more than five times! Learn more fun hot dog facts here.
23. Not all Americans gained freedom on July 4th.
24. Barack Obama’s older daughter Malia Obama was born on July 4, 1998.
As a result of their accomplishments, Malia and her younger sister Sasha were named two of the most influential teens of 2014 by Time magazine. Today, Malia works as a writer for a new Netflix series.
25. John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.
No one has a more recognizable signature than John Hancock. Hancock was serving as president of the Second Continental Congress during 1776. Watch this video to learn more about the life of this famous Founding Father.