"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." Did you know this famous quote is attributed to George Washington in regard to the American Revolution and our fight for Independence?
It wasn't. That's an out-and-out lie.
This quote is actually attributed to Edmund Burke, a British-Irish politician who lived at the time of the revolution. Burke sympathized with the plight of British colonists but never advocated what would be, to him, a rebellion.
No, I bring up this quote for two reasons: 1) It's timely – after all, Burke lived to see the beginning and end of the revolutionary war ... and 2) it's about history.
And our shared Fourth of July history is what I want to test you on today.
(Test? No one said there would be a test! Ahem, we are, after all, Grantham University. Tests are part of the curriculum.)
So grab a pencil and test your Independence Day knowledge. Answers provided at the end.
Part 1 – Multiple Choice
1. On what day did the American Revolution begin?
A. April 19, 1775
B. July 2, 1776
C. July 4, 1776
2. When was the first draft of the Declaration of Independence written?
A. January 1775
B. June 1776
C. July 1776
3. When was the Declaration of Independence signed?
A. July 2, 1776
B. July 4, 1776
C. August 2, 1776
4. When was the Declaration of Independence "delivered" to Great Britain?
A. July 4, 1776
B. August 10, 1776
5. What actually happened on July 4, 1776?
A. Colonists confronted Redcoats in the "shot heard around the world."
B. The Continental Congress approved and adopted the final wording of the Declaration of Independence.
C. Fifty-six delegates signed the Declaration of Independence.
Part 2 – True of False
6. True or False – The Fourth of July immediately became a Federal holiday in 1776.
7. True or False – Three former presidents all died on July 4, 1826.
8. True or False - Several former presidents have been born on the Fourth of July.
9. True or False – The Fourth of July is one of four Federal Holidays that are celebrated on the same calendar date every year.
10. True or False – They have the Fourth of July in England.
Answers – Give Yourself a Point for Each Correct Answer
1. A: The “shot heard around the world” was fired on April 19, 1775. According to History.com, this occurred in Lexington, near Boston, Massachusetts. Seventy-seven armed minutemen met 700 British troops in the common area. No one knows who fired the first shot, but after the smoke cleared, eight Americans were dead and 10 others were wounded. Only one Redcoat was injured.
2. B: On June 11, 1776, a five-man committee – including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston and Benjamin Franklin – was tasked by the Second Continental Congress to draft a formal statement justifying a permanent break from Great Britain.
4. B. News of the declaration reached England in mid-August. The London Gazette broke the news in its Saturday, August 10 edition, with a printed extract from a letter from General William Howe: "I am informed that the Continental Congress have declared the United Colonies free and independent States."
5. B: The final wording of the document was adopted and approved two days after the first draft was submitted on July 2, 1776.
6. False – Congress made the Fourth of July a paid Federal Legal Holiday in 1941 for all Federal Employees (amending a 1938 bill that somehow left out employees of the Government of the District of Columbia.)
7. False – Two former presidents – John Adams (our 2nd president, 1797-1801) and Thomas Jefferson (our 3rd president, 1801-1809) – died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826. Another former president, James Monroe (our 5th president, 1817-1825) died years later on July 4, 1831.
8. False – Only one of our former presidents can claim to be an Independence Day baby. Calvin Coolidge (our 30th president, 1923-1929) was born on July 4, 1872.
9. True – The other three Federal date-driven holidays are New Year's Day (January 1), Veterans Day (November 11) and Christmas Day (December 25).
10. True – They just don't celebrate it like we do. What? You thought they skipped it and went straight from July 3rd to the 5th? :)
How Did You Do?
1-3 correct – You're related to someone who knows some things about Independence Day.
4-6 correct – You are a true Patriot!
7-10 correct – You are thisclose to being a Founding Father (or Mother) of our nation! Congrats – you are free to celebrate with moms, apple pie and baseball. And fireworks.
11 correct – As there are only 10 possible correct answer, you are a liar. Or, like me, you got a bonus point for being born on the Fourth of July. So while you shoot off some fireworks for our nation, pop one for me!