Listen, don’t you think it’s time you learned the capitals to each state? Do you start to sweat when the conversation turns to the Declaration of Independence? The truth is that many Americans do not know the facts that surround the 4th of July. We know we should know the order of the Presidents of the United States and who did what. Take a look at the following list to help you accumulate that knowledge before you hit 40.
1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on the 4th of July. The actual signing of the Declaration didn’t happen for another month. Many signed it on August 2nd with others signing later. The 4th of July is when the document was edited and approved. July 2nd is when it was voted on. So you see, it is a much more complex issue than you thought!
2. The real story on how the Liberty Bell got cracked. The Liberty Bell started out being poorly cast and was therefore cracked previously. Several times it was recast and re-cracked. The 19th century is when the bell we celebrate was actually cracked. It was also during this time that they gave it the name “Liberty Bell.”
3. There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence. There is no treasure map on the back of the Declaration, although that is a brilliant plot for a movie. (Anyone?) However, there is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence. It is a label of what the document is. It is written on the back because in the day they would roll their documents up. So the message reads “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.”
4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day and year, July 4, 1826. Thomas Jefferson died hours before John Adams. James Monroe also died on July 4th in 1831.
5. Native Americans fought with the British against the Americans. Native Americans fought on the side of the British thinking that their actions would save their homeland. No such luck. See Peace of Paris treaty. They fared no better really down the road by the Americans.
How many of these facts did you already know? How many are new to you? What do you think? The details of history are often lost or forgotten when we get used to celebrating the 4th of July with fireworks, picnics and parties. It is important to remember the details of our nation’s history so that we can pass that truth along to future generations.
Just like our forefathers had faith and hope that later generations would hold what would later become our country’s traditions, we have a responsibility to our forefathers to uphold those traditions and customs. Most importantly, we have the responsibility to remember them for who they were and what they did that led us to live in the kind of democracy we live in today. No, it isn’t perfect but it’s darn near close and it’s the best that we have in all the world.
Happy Independence Day!