Everything You Think You Know About the Fourth of July… is WRONG

OK not EVERYTHING, but I got you to read this. Perusing our e-reference books  and James R. Heintze’s Fourth of July Celebrations Database gave me interesting facts about Independence Day.

After the Revolutionary War, the Fourth was only sporadically celebrated and did not become a regular observance until after the turn of the nineteenth century. The first celebrations were partisan and more like political rallies for the Federalist and Republican parties. In the 1820’s there was a call for more universal celebrations. It was not made a federal paid holiday until 1941.

Flickr user: Cayusa

John Adams foresaw a “great anniversary festival” with “pomp, parade, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”  In the late nineteenth century, the Safe and Sane Fourth of July Program emphasized the solemn style of celebration. This program actually banned all firecrackers and encouraged less noise!*

*From the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Whew, I am glad that “Safe and Sane” program didn’t last. Bring on the fireworks!

Flickr user:M.V. Jantze

More fun facts:

• Three presidents died on July 4:  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Calvin Coolidge was born on the Fourth.

• The first fireworks displays were on July 4, 1777 in Philadelphia and Boston. **

• Typical fare for pre-Civil War July 4 celebrations included: beef, pork, mutton, beans, biscuits, fruits, vegetables, pickles, john cake, apple pie, sweet cake and rice pudding.**

• For the Bicentennial on July 4, 1976, bells rang throughout the nation at 2 p.m. to mark the time the Declaration of Independence was originally approved. **

Happy Independence Day!

**James R. Heintze, Fourth of July Celebrations Database

– Anne R., Reference Librarian at CADL Downtown Lansing

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