The Spirit of ’76
Postcard in my personal collection
- Only two men actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th – John Hancock, who famously wrote large enough for the king to read it without his spectacles, and Charles Thomson, a delegate from Pennsylvania.
- In 1989, a collector who bought an old picture for $4.00 because he liked the frame, discovered an authentic copy of the Declaration of Independence neatly tucked behind the painting. He tossed the painting out and, eventually, also discarded the frame, but kept the paper “curiosity,” which was auctioned off for $2.42 million!
- The 4th of July didn’t become a national holiday until 1870, at the same time that Christmas was also declared a holiday by Congressional law.
- The song Yankee Doodle was originally sung to make fun of colonial militias during the French and Indian Wars. We took the song and made it our own, singing it with pride.
- The oldest continual 4th of July parade is found in Bristol, Rhode Island. The first one held there was in 1785. I had some college friends from Bristol and they chose to get married there on the 4th of July – boy, was the traffic ever bad that day!
- Benjamin Franklin, the eldest delegate at the convention at the age of 70, was unhappy about the choice of the bald eagle as our national bird because he believed it was “of bad moral character.” He was in favor of the turkey.
- The last time the Liberty Bell was rung was in 1846, as it was deemed too fragile after that time. Ironically, the Liberty Bell was made in England.
- Thomas Jefferson was the first President to hold an Independence Day celebration at the White House.
- One U.S. President was born on the 4th of July – #30, Calvin Coolidge.
- Three Presidents died on the 4th of July – James Monroe died in 1831. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, political rivals for many years, both died on our nation’s 50th birthday – 4 July 1826. Jefferson declared near the last of his life that “Adams lives,” unaware that John Adams had died just hours earlier.
Have a safe, happy, fun-filled 4th of July and please remember that freedom is not free.