Happy Birthday, America
Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2011
On July the Fourth, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. Thereafter, the 13 colonies embarked on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.
This most American of holidays is traditionally celebrated with parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.
As you get ready to celebrate America’s birthday here is some Fourth of July history and trivia to ponder then share.
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Did you know that:
• The major objection to being ruled by Britain was taxation without representation. The colonists had no say in the decisions of English Parliament.
• In May 1776, after nearly a year of trying to resolve their differences with England, the colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Finally, in June, admitting that their efforts were hopeless a committee was formed to compose the formal Declaration of Independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee also included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the declaration to Congress.
• Betsy Ross, according to legend, sewed the first American flag in May or June 1776, as commissioned by the Congressional Committee.
The Liberty Bell sounded from the tower of Independence Hall on July 8, 1776, summoning citizens to gather for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Col. John Nixon.
• The word ‘patriotism’ comes from the Latin patria, which means ‘homeland’ or ‘fatherland.’
• The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804.
• Before cars ruled the road way, the Fourth of July was traditionally the most miserable day of the year for horses, tormented by all the noise and by the boys and girls who threw firecrackers at them.
• On June 24, 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining an invitation to come to Washington, D.C., to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It was the last letter that Jefferson, who was gravely ill, ever wrote.
• Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826.
• The origin of Uncle Sam probably began in 1812, when Samuel Wilson was a meat packer who provided meat to the U.S. Army. The meat shipments were stamped with the initials, U.S. Someone joked that the initials stood for “Uncle Sam.” This joke eventually led to the idea of Uncle Sam symbolizing the United States government.
• In 1941, Congress declared Fourth of July a federal legal holiday. It is one of the few federal holidays that have not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.
• “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”-The Declaration of Independence Fourth of July, 1776.
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