6 Facts You Might Not Have Known About the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July marks the independence of the land of the free and the home of the brave and is celebrated with gusto all over the nation. But there are a couple of interesting little tidbits of information that might come as a surprise to you.

Here are six cool facts about the Fourth of July you probably didn’t know — until now:

1. The turkey might have been the national bird if Ben Franklin had his way

Forget the bald eagle, the turkey would have “gobble-gobbled” its way to the top spot, if Benjamin Franklin had any say in the matter. In 1784, Ben Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter Sarah Bache about how displeased he was that the turkey hadn’t gotten its due and the bald eagle had been chosen instead as the symbol for the nation.

He called the turkey a “respectable bird,” who was a true original native of America, unlike the bald eagle who he called a “bird of bad moral character.” In his opinion, the turkey was a courageous bird who wouldn’t hesitate to attack the enemy if they came invading. The scavenging bald eagle on the other hand, did not make his living honestly, according the Franklin.

2. It wasn’t a national holiday until 1870

The Fourth of July was first observed way back in 1777 in Philadelphia, where fireworks, a thirteen-shot cannon, and a parade marked the significance of the date. But it wasn’t until 1870, that it was made official by Congress. A bill was passed to recognize all major state holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Day, and even the Fourth of July, at a federal level.

3. It’s the biggest hot dog holiday of the year

A plush, fresh bun, a dash of tangy sauerkraut, and a succulent sausage on a grill; what’s not to love? The Fourth of July is pretty much the unofficial hot dog holiday of the year. Americans reportedly devour around 155 million hot dogs on this day alone!

4. The founding fathers celebrated with bowls of turtle soup

Thank goodness for hot dogs and barbecue, because if that wasn't around, you might have been celebrating with a bowlful of turtle soup, much like the founding fathers. If legend is true, John Adams and his wife Abigail ate a celebratory dinner on the night of July 4th, 1776 with turtle soup, jacket potatoes, green peas, and New England poached salmon with egg sauce.

5. Two founding fathers died on this day

Many do not know that the Fourth of July also marks the death of two founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4th, 1826, for reasons unrelated to eating turtle soup.

6. The Liberty Bell hasn't been rung since 1846

The two-thousand pound Liberty Bell started to show signs of wear and tear and to prevent any further damage to this American icon, it hasn't been rung since the year 1846. Instead, to mark the Fourth of July, every year the bell is gently tapped 13 times as a signal for bells across the nation to start ringing.

(Check out A Salute to Dads: 4 Fascinating Facts About Father’s Day)

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