“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus
As people across the U.S. head to the beach or backyard barbecues to celebrate Fourth of July, we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and other pivotal events in the country’s early history. While many Americans are knowledgeable about the happenings surrounding the birth of our country, the U.S. has a rich and intriguing history that is full of surprising, lesser-known facts. Here is some interesting trivia to surprise your friends and family with at your Fourth of July celebrations this year.
- The current flag was designed by a teenager. In 1958, 17 year-old Robert Heft came up with the design for our current flag as part of a school project. At the time, there were only 48 states, but he included 50 stars on the assumption that Alaska and Hawaii would soon become states. His teacher raised his grade for the assignment from a B minus to an A after Heft submitted his design to President Eisenhower, who announced that it had been selected as the new official American flag.
- The Founding Fathers drew inspiration for the Constitution from Native Americans. It was modeled after the constitution of the Iroquois confederacy of tribes.
- Many of us could be related to the pilgrims. It is estimated that up to one in ten Americans are blood relatives of the 102 original pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.
- At least two early presidents had entrepreneurial tendencies. Abraham Lincoln was the only U.S. president to own a patent—and a saloon! The patent was for a device used to lift boats over sandbars. The saloon, however, wasn’t much of a success. In addition to being the first president of the United States, George Washington also owned one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the fledgling country. By 1799, he was producing 11,000 gallons of whiskey made from the corn and rye grown on his plantation. Today, the distillery has been rebuilt and still operates seasonally.
- The U.S. doesn’t have an official language. Many people mistakenly assume that English is our official language. While that may be the case in some states, the federal government has never actually designated an official language for the country.
- The Liberty Bell hasn’t rung since 1846. This famously cracked American relic was first rung on July 8, 1776 in celebration of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Though it is unclear when its schism first began to appear, it was sadly cracked beyond repair at a celebration to commemorate George Washington’s birthday in 1846.