Last year, I wrote a post for Borderstan on the 5 things everyone should know about France’s national holiday, le quatorze juillet. The main things to take away from that post is don’t call it Bastille Day (nobody in France does) and don’t call it France’s Independence Day. Because it’s not. But you know whose independence day it is today? America!!! In honour of the US of A’s national holiday, I thought I would return the favour and give you a few things that you should know about July 4th!
Starting with why Americans celebrate their national holiday on July 4th. The answer isn’t as straightforward as you would think… So the colonies (all thirteen of them back then) began to rebel against the Brits in 1775, leading to the declaration of independence in 1776. But, America (well, the Continental Congress really) actually declared said independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776 in Philadelphia. The document justifying the act of Congress though wasn’t adopted until July 4th. As a matter of fact, the only founder to sign the declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776 was John Hancock and the first independence day was celebrated on July 8, 1776 when the founding fathers rang Liberty Bell and read the declaration to those assembled. Meanwhile, the declaration of independence itself wasn’t signed until August AND the American War of Independence went on for a couple more years after that, culminating with the Peace of Paris in 1783. You knew I was going to bring this back to Paris somehow right?? 😉
Couple more random factoids: two of the founders (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) passed away on July 4th (1826) within a few hours of each other. Random right? Also, did you know America’s national emblem could have been another (less majestic) bird beside the bald eagle? That’s right. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be America’s national bird… He was over ruled by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who thought the bald eagle would be more appropriate. Which is too bad… I bet America’s turkey would have gotten along great with France’s rooster… cocorico.
Finally, did you know that the US isn’t the only country celebrating its independence today? Technically. The Philippines celebrate their national holiday on June 12th BUT the US granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 via the Treaty of Manila. Until 1964, the Philippines would celebrate their independence from the US on the day that the US celebrated their independence from the brits. Kinda ironic, no? But then in 1964, president Diosdado Macapagal, at the urging of nationalists and with the advice of historians, signed a law designating June 12th (when the country proclaimed its independence from Spain) as the country’s official independence day and national holiday. Oh, and I don’t mean to bring this back to Paris again… well, actually, I do… but, so when the Philippines declared their independence from Spain, neither Spain nor the US recognized it. And in 1898, there was yet another treaty of Paris (how many of them can there be, right? lots according to wikipedia…) that ended the Spanish-American war. And that’s when the US took over the Philippines from Spain…
So there you have it… lots of random facts to get to know July 4th a little bit better. Though I’ll give you one last one before closing: it’s Malia Obama’s 15th birthday!! Joyeux anniversaire Malia and happy 4th of July to everyone who’s celebrating the holiday!!