Jul 02, 2018

The Fourth of July was almost the Second of July

Americans have been celebrating independence from British rule on July 4 for more than two centuries, but a more accurate date to celebrate may actually be July 2.

While Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, it made the formal call for freedom on July 2. The Declaration of Independence became official only on Aug. 2, 1776, after members of Congress signed the document, according to the National Archives.

President John Adams  wrote a letter to his wife that July 2 should be celebrated by future generations as the "great anniversary festival" for the new nation. He almost got his wish.

Famous hot dog eating competition started as a fight over who was more patriotic

Four immigrants arguing over who was the most patriotic on the Fourth of July decided to settle their dispute with a hot dog eating contest. That contest became the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest — one of the best-known competitions in the realm of "competitive eating." More than 100 years later, competitors and about 30,000 fans flock to Coney Island in Brooklyn every year to watch the spectacle and celebrate America's birthday.

Three presidents have died on July 4 (and one had an Independence-Day birthday)

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on July 4. Adams and Jefferson died the same day and year, in 1826 — exactly 50 years after Congress declared independence. Adams, the second president, is rumored to have whispered "Thomas Jefferson survives" just before dying, according to the White House. Little did he know that Jefferson had died a few hours earlier, 500 miles away in Virginia.

The Liberty Bell hasn't rung in over 171 years

Instead of being rung, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped 13 times every July 4 by descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, according to Adam Duncan, a spokesman for the National Park Service.

The Liberty Bell last rang on Feb. 23, 1846, to celebrate George Washington's birthday, Duncan said. It hasn't been rung for the 172 years  since then because of fears that it would worsen the crack.