A key lesson drummed into the heads of schoolchildren from kindergarten through college is the significance of the Declaration of Independence and why the United States goes all out to celebrate on the Fourth of July.
It’s more than just the opportunity to go shopping to take advantage of July 4 sales, see parades, party with friends and blow something up. Monday marks the 240th birthday of this wonderful nation conceived in hard times against British rule yet filled with incredible amounts of hope and promise.
The U.S. Census Bureau gives people some additional facts to buttress what they learned in school, which they can share with friends and relatives.
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to become a sovereign republic. A total of 56 persons signed the declaration, which started the Revolutionary War.
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston made up the Committee of Five that drafted the document. Franklin, of Pennsylvania at age 70, was the oldest of the signers. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina was the youngest at age 26.
John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress was the first signer and a merchant by trade. The colonies in 1776 had 1.1 million people like Hancock who were in the retail trade industry. In 2014 there were 7.6 million business establishments with paid employees in the U.S.
Two future presidents — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — signed the Declaration of Independence. Each died July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing. There were 12 counties nationwide named Adams and 26 named Jefferson.
In 1776, only 2.5 million people (not counting Native Americans) lived in what was to become the United States. Today the estimated population of the U.S. is 321.4 million, and the Native Americans are counted.
Charles Carroll, who represented Maryland, was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was 95 years old when he died in 1832.
Independence Day is a red, white and boom holiday in this capitalist democracy with $311.7 million in fireworks in 2015 being imported from China. The bulk of all U.S. fireworks that are imported ($324.8 million) came from that communist country.
Retailers in 2012 sold $368.6 million in fireworks. The 172 wholesalers that same year sold $482.6 million in fireworks and firecrackers.
Who doesn’t feel obligated to wave the U.S. flag on July 4? In 2015, $4.4 million in imported American flags were sold — the majority, $4.3 million — came from China.
Old Glory is a big export item, too. In 2015, $3.1 million in U.S. flags were exported, with Mexico being the biggest customer.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump might want to rethink building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Liberty is a big deal in the U.S. particularly on Independence Day. In addition to Liberty, Mo., there are 33 counties in the U.S. that contain the word “liberty” such as Liberty County, Ga.; Liberty County, Fla.; Liberty County, Mont.; and Liberty County, Texas.
But there is only one incorporated place in the U.S. with the word “patriot” in its name — Patriot, Ind., population 208. There are substantially more — 54 — with the word “union.”
Despite the war, the British have long been our friends and trading partner. In 2015 the U.S. did $114.1 billion in trade with the United Kingdom.
Who knows what that will be after the June 23 vote of Brits to leave the European Union.
Ties to the U.K. run deeper than money. In 2014, 24.4 million people in the United States reported English ancestry.
Enjoy the Fourth!