Fire up the grill and gas up the boat, 4 July is nearly upon us.
Independence Day is the most patriotic of American holidays, a celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The intervening 239 years have eroded the novelty of independence, but not the celebration of freedom in the US. Most Americans have the day off from work and many use that day off to justify a vacation.
But Independence Day was not always cook outs and lake days, and it was not always known as Independence Day. Check out these five facts about 4 July.
- The first Independence Day celebrations took place in 1777 in Bristol, Rhode Island and Philadelphia. The Bristol celebration was marked by a 13-gun salute in the morning and at nightfall. The Philadelphia commemoration was slightly more familiar, comprising an official dinner, drinks and, of course, fireworks.
- On the second Independence Day, General George Washington gave his soldiers a double ration of rum, possibly explaining why 4 July remains one of the booziest US holidays.
- It seems unthinkable today that workers would not be given a holiday on 4 July, but Congress did not make Independence Day a paid federal holiday until 1938.
- According to several sources, Americans spend more than $1 billion on beer for the Fourth. That is A LOT of Budweiser. Also, more than 150 million hot dogs are consumed on 4 July.
- Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on 4 July, 1826.
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