The real story behind the Fourth of July

Chris Worthy

The Fourth of July means cookouts, fireworks, patriotism galore — and this year, it also means a three-day weekend. But between that lunchtime burger and the last light of the sky, take a moment to learn some new or forgotten things about America’s birthday.

For a crash course in interesting facts about the most American holiday, we went to Kelly Smith, curator of collections for the Upcountry History Museum – Furman University and an adjunct professor of American history at USC Upstate.

Despite the perception that signers of the Declaration of Independence stood in line with quill pens, that’s not how it happened.

“Only two people actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776: John Hancock and Charles Thompson,” Smith says.

Those founding fathers weren’t all senior citizens.

“The representative for South Carolina, Thomas Lynch Jr. was the youngest person to sign it,” Smith says. “He was 27. Ben Franklin was the oldest at 70. Thomas Jefferson was the ripe old age of 33.”

July 4, 1776, was long after the start of the American Revolution.

“Battles had been going on for the previous year,” Smith says. “This really elevated it to a revolution.”

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