Fourth facts

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 4, 2014

Did you know Independence Day wasn’t declared a federal holiday by Congress until 1870 and wasn’t instated as a paid holiday until 1941?

This may seem like a long time to wait, considering America adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and wasn’t granted freedom from the King of England until the end of the American Revolution in 1783.

Don’t be misled, we were quick to begin our traditional celebrations almost immediately.

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Celebrations including fireworks and parades can be traced back to the 18th century and in 1777, Philadelphia, which would become the first capital of the United States of America, held the first annual commemoration of our independence from Great Britain.

Fun fact: Exactly one year later, George Washington ordered a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute to mark the occasion.

Below are Declaration facts not widely known.

According to The History Channel:

— The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776. July 4 is the day Congress officially adopted the document. However, it wasn’t until August 2 when most of the delegates had signed and five more signed at an even later date. While two other delegates never signed at all.

— More than one copy exists. Of the hundreds of copies printed and dispatched to newspapers and local officials on July 5, only 26 copies survived. These versions are called Dunlap Broadsides, after John Dunlap, the printer charged with the task of reproducing the approved text. Most of the remaining copies are held in museums and library collections, but three are privately owned.

— There was a 44-year age difference between the youngest and oldest signers. The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin, who was 70. The youngest was Edward Rutledge, 26 at the time.