Independence Day Trivia – How Much Do You Know?

 by Susan Spann

Most of us know that the July 4th holiday (celebrated in the United States) is also known as Independence Day.

However … how much do you really know about the day that most of us spend by the pool, eating hot dogs, until it gets dark enough to blow things up?

Fireworks 2

Let’s look at some Independence Day trivia that might just get you an extra ice cream sundae (or at least impress your friends) at next year’s barbecue:

Let’s see how much you know….

Independence Day Trivia!

— The legal separation of the 13 U.S. colonies from Britain actually occurred on July 2, 1776 – the date the Continental Congress voted to approve the “resolution of independence” (which was signed by the delegates on July 4).

— John Adams, the founding father who nominated Thomas Jefferson to write the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, actually wanted the nation to celebrate Independence Day on July 2. (Unlike his nomination of Jefferson, that idea got voted down in favor of the day the first three delegates actually signed the document – July 4.)

— John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 – the fiftieth anniversary of the (initial) signing of the original Declaration of Independence.

— A third U.S. President also died on July 4 (in 1831). Can you name him? (Answer below.)

— Do you know which U.S. President was born on July 4? (Answer below.)

Spirit of 76

Bonus: Fireworks Trivia!

— In the 1980s, professional fireworks shows lasted, on average, five times longer than they do now. (Then: 50-60 minutes. Now: only 20 minutes.)

— People who work in fireworks factories wear 100% cotton garments from head to toe (including underwear). This is to prevent static electricity, and avoid accidental fires and explosions.

— In early gunpowder factories, it was considered bad luck to talk about dying or accidents on the job. The workers developed a euphemism: “going across the river” – which developed because the factories usually sat on a river bank, and had an intentionally weakened wall on the river side. This ensured that any explosions blew out the wall that faced the river, avoiding accidental deaths to people walking or working on other sides of the building. It also sent the unfortunate victims out in that direction … “across the river.”

— Most people know that fireworks were originally invented in China … but did you know that the first European fireworks were manufactured in Italy? It’s true!


Trivia Answers:

The three U.S. Presidents who died on July 4 are John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe (1831).

Calvin Coolidge was the only U.S. President born on July 4 (1872).



Susan Spann writes the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. The second Shinobi Mystery, BLADE OF THE SAMURAI, releases on July 15, 2014, from Minotaur Books.

Susan is also a transactional attorney whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. When not writing or practicing law, she raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. You can find her online at her website (http://www.SusanSpann.com), on Facebook, and on Twitter (@SusanSpann).

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