Independence Day is almost here! Before you break out the hot dogs and apple pie, take a minute to brush up on some fun facts about the Fourth of July – by the numbers.
1776: the year the Declaration of Independence was signed on the 4th of July. The continental congress had actually voted in favor of declaring independence on the 2nd, but the signing took place 2 days later.
A total of 56 soon-to-be Americans signed the historic document: the oldest, Benjamin Franklin, was 70 years old. The youngest was Edward Rutledge, at age 26. We often think of the founding fathers as wise, older men, but the group actually skewed toward the younger crowd – only 7 were over the age of 60, while 13 were under the age of 35. Under current American laws, that means that some of them couldn’t even run for president!
The first to sign was John Hancock, who also famously made his signature the largest on the page. 8 of the men signing were born in Great Britain or Ireland. 1 signer (Richard Stockton of New Jersey) later recanted – when he was imprisoned by the British.
Two of the founding fathers (and some of our first presidents), John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died on the 50th anniversary of the signing: July 4th, 1826.
Official celebrations took a while to get going. It wasn’t until 1782 that Massachusetts became the first state to make Independence Day an official state holiday, and Congress didn’t declare it a federal holiday until 1941.
What do people do with their federally-recognized holiday? 76% spend it with their family. 80% of people favor a barbecue or picnic to celebrate, grilling up some of the 150 million hot dogs Americans eat on the 4th of July (that’s enough to lay a path from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles more than 5 times!). About $2 billion is spent on party food across the country, from burger and hot dog fixings, to chips and dip, to watermelon and popsicles. 63% of people watch one of the more than 14,000 fireworks displays that occur across the country; although it’s illegal in 4 states, 26% will light fireworks at home.
Have a happy Fourth of July!