July 4: A date rich in historical coincidences, interesting events and trivial stats

National News

Realistically, July 4 is no different than July 3 or July 5 or September 18, for that matter.

It’s just a date.

But look beneath this particular date and you discover a host of historical coincidences and interesting events.

Below, gathered from numerous sources, is a list of facts, stats and events tied to July 4:

Three of the first five American presidents died on July 4. John Adams (2nd president), Thomas Jefferson (3rd president) and James Monroe (5th president) all died on America’s birthday. Monroe died in 1831. But Jefferson and Adams died just five hours apart on July 4, 1826. It is reported that, as he was dying, Adams said, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” He was wrong — Jefferson died before Adams.

Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4. The 30th president of the United States was born on July 4, 1872 — the only president born on the nation’s birthday. Known as “Silent Cal,” he had a reputation as a man of very few words. One dubious anecdote involves a dinner where a man seated next to Coolidge said to the president, “I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you.” Supposedly, Coolidge replied, “You lose.”

American territory has a habit of expanding on July 4. In 1803, Americans learned their nation suddenly grew 827,000 square miles. It was the Louisiana Purchase and, although the deal to buy the territory from France for $15 million was formalized on April 30th, it wasn’t wasn’t made public until July 4. Then, in 1845, The Republic Of Texas agreed on July 4 to accept an offer to join the United States, expanding the size of the U.S. by another 268,597 square miles.

It took nearly a century for the Fourth of July to become an official federal holiday. Interestingly, there wasn’t much in the way of organized celebrations in the early years after July 4, 1776. John Adams noted how, in Philadelphia in 1777, a Fourth of July event was hastily put together by a group of people 48 hours before July 4. Celebrations nationwide varied: Some were subdued, others were held with a flourish. In some places, July 4 was a normal work day. It wasn’t until 1870 that Congress declared July 4 a national holiday — 96 years after independence was declared.

July 4 is Independence Day in the Philippines. Guess from whom they won their independence. On July 4, 1946, the Treaty of Manila was signed in the Philippines. It gave that nation independence from — the United States. At the turn of the 20th Century, the U.S. exerted control over the island nation in an uneasy alliance and rocky government-to-government association. In 1946, the U.S. relinquished sovereignty over the Philippines and recognized the independence of the Republic of the Philippines. 

The first July 4 celebrations were… different. Once word of independence spread through the colonies, people didn’t celebrate the event by lighting fireworks or having parades or even picnics. Instead, in Manhattan, they tore down a statue of King George III and later melted it into bullets. In Philadelphia, people used the King’s coat of arms as kindling for a bonfire. In Savannah, Georgia, people burned an effigy of King George III and held a mock funeral for him. Today, we’re close friends with Great Britain, current and ex-royals are celebrities in the U.S. and imported TV shows like “The Crown” are more popular with Americans than the English. Go figure.

If it’s a Will Smith movie, it must be the Fourth of July weekend. There was a brief time when there more movies starring Will Smith that debuted over the July 4 holiday weekend that went on to become box office blockbusters than for any other star. Keep in mind, this was in pre-Marvel Movie Era. His films: Men In Black, Men In Black II, Hancock, Independence Day and Wild, Wild West.

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