On July 4, 1776, the U.S. Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, in which the 13 colonies broke from England and set on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the colonies and became the governing body of the United Stares during the American Revolution.
In honor of America’s birthday, the U.S. Census Bureau gathered the following facts and statistics about the Fourth of July:
— In July 1776, 2.5 million people lived in the newly independent nation. This Fourth of July, the nation’s estimated population is 321.2 million.
— There were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote most of the document because he was considered the strongest, most eloquent writer of the Committee of Five that drafted the declaration.
— John Hancock, who was president of the Second Continental Congress, was the first person to sign the document. He signed in an entirely blank space, making it the most prominent and most famous signature. Today, the term “John Hancock” is still used as a synonym for signature.
— Two future presidents, John Adams (second president) and Thomas Jefferson (third president) signed the Declaration of Independence. Both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the document.
— Benjamin Franklin, age 70, was the oldest of the signers, while Edward Rutledge, 26, of South Carolina, was the youngest.
Rockets’ Red Glare
Fireworks displays are a key part of Fourth of July celebrations in the United States. Public fireworks shows occur on the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol and Washington monument, while many major cities, small towns, local counties and parks across the nation put on their own fireworks displays. Some Americans buy their own fireworks to use at home parties.
— The value of fireworks imported from China in 2014, which represents the bulk of all U.S. imported fireworks, is $247.1 million.
— U.S. retailers sold $369.4 million worth of fireworks in 2012.
— Wholesalers sold $508.1 million worth of fireworks and firecrackers in 2012.
Grand Old Flag
— The dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags in 2014 is $3.6 million. Most of these flags, $3.5 million worth, are made in China.
— The United States exported $1.8 million worth of flags in 2014; Turkey was the leading customer, purchasing $673,000 worth.