On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.
In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970
The nation’s estimated population on this July Fourth.
Source: U.S. and World Population Clock
Numbers of signers to the Declaration of Independence.
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston comprised the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration. Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer, wrote most of the document.
It’s also worth noting that:
-- John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, was the first signer. This merchant by trade did so in an entirely blank space making it the largest and most famous signature – hence the term John Hancock, which is still used today as a synonym for signature. There are 7,354,043 businesses with paid employees in the U.S., according to the 2011 County Business Patterns.
-- Benjamin Franklin (age 70), who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest of the signers.
-- Franklin County, Pa., had an estimated population of 151,275 as of July 1, 2012. Edward Rutledge (age 26), of South Carolina, was the youngest.
-- Two future presidents signed, John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President). Both died on the 50th anniversary of signing the Declaration (July 4, 1826). There are 12 counties nationwide named Adams and 26 named Jefferson.
-- Robert Livingston, who represented New York, was on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence but was recalled by his state before he could sign it. Livingston County, N.Y., was home to an estimated 64,810 people as of July 1, 2012.
-- Representing Georgia in 1776 were Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall and George Walton. Gwinnett County, Ga. (842,046), Hall County, Ga. (185,416) and Walton County, Ga. (84,575) were named for these signers.
-- Charles Carroll, who represented Maryland, was the last surviving member of the signers of the Declaration. He died in 1832 at the age of 95. Carroll County, Md., named for him, had an estimated population of 167,217 as of July 1, 2012.
-- Roger Sherman, who worked as a land surveyor and lawyer, represented Connecticut. Today, there are an estimated 30,445 surveyors, cartographers and photogrammetrists employed full time, year-round, and 840,813 lawyers employed full time, year-round nationwide, according to the 2011 American Community Survey.
-- Nelson County, Va. (14,827) and Wythe County, Va. (29,251) were named for two of the six signers who represented the state of Virginia – Thomas Nelson Jr. and George Wythe.
The value of fireworks imported from China in 2012, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($227.3 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $11.7 million in 2012, with Israel purchasing more than any other country ($2.5 million).
The value of U.S. manufacturers’ shipments of fireworks and pyrotechnics (including flares, igniters, etc.) in 2007.
Source: 2007 Economic Census, Series EC0731SP1, Products and Services Code 325998J108