Some July 4th Trivia

Having been on something of a Revolutionary War kick in recent years after HBO’s John Adams miniseries, then reading 1776 by David McCullough and Washington, A Life by Ron Chernow followed by a visit to Williamsburg, Virgina a couple months ago, this July 4th feels a bit different than past ones.

Somehow, the details of what went on in this part of the world 225+ years ago have become much more intriguing later in life, that is, when you can explore them on your own rather than being force-fed all this information in school so it can be regurgitated for a test.

Anyway, here’s some July 4th trivia – I still find that last one hard to believe.

  • Independence Day was first celebrated in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.
  • 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 Colonel John Nixon.
  • 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.
  • Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826.

One of the things that we learned in Williamsburg was that, contrary to popular belief, Thomas Jefferson didn’t just sit down and write the Declaration of Independence and then have the likes of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin tweak it before it was released. The document pulled liberally from other documents, notably the Virgina Declaration of Rights whose principle author was George Mason.

There’s much more trivia in this item at beliefnet, for anyone who might be interested.

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