The story of 4th of July


4thofJuly

The Declaration of Independence

We celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year. We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.

But July 4, 1776 wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776).

It wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either (that had happened back in April 1775).

And it wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence (that was in June 1776). Or the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain (that didn’t happen until November 1776). Or the date it was signed (that was August 2, 1776).

So what did happen on July 4, 1776?

The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.

July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.

In contrast, we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th of each year, the anniversary of the date the Constitution was signed, not the anniversary of the date it was approved. If we’d followed this same approach for the Declaration of Independence we’d being celebrating Independence Day on August 2nd of each year, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!

How did the Fourth of July become a national holiday?

For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. It was too new and too much else was happening in the young nation. By the 1790s, a time of bitter partisan conflicts, the Declaration had become controversial. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.

By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. But that would soon change.

After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may even have helped to promote the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated.

Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941.

Americans Reminded to Avoid Foodborne Bacteria on the 4th of July


Hamburgers on a grill.No matter where you find yourself on the Fourth of July, you will probably see copious amounts of food, beverages and grass-stained sneakers. Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue in the great outdoors, traveling to see family or friends, or spending time at home, we are urging everyone to take extra food safety precautions when planning their menu.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (that’s 48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Because foodborne bacteria thrive and multiply more quickly in warmer temperatures, foodborne illness can spike during summer. This is likely because people are spending more time outside – away from the sink and equipment in the kitchen that promotes food safety.

The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F in which foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Leaving perishables out too long in the Danger Zone is one of the most common mistakes people make, especially during warmer months.

Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone

The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by USDA food safety experts, routinely gets calls from consumers with questions about the perishable foods left out too long. Below are their recommendations on how to steer clear of the Danger Zone this Fourth of July:

  • Without refrigeration or a heat source, perishables should not be left out more than two hours if the temperature is below 90 ⁰F, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 ⁰F. Since the weather will likely be very hot on July 4th, food should be returned to the cooler within an hour. If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.
  • Always keep cold food COLD, at or below 40 °F, in coolers or in containers with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs. Keep hot food HOT, at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated containers, heated chafing dishes, warming trays and/or slow cookers. If food needs to be reheated, reheat it to 165 °F.
  • Pack an appliance thermometer in your cooler to ensure food stays at or below 40 °F. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use.
  • Packing drinks in a separate cooler is strongly recommended, so the food cooler isn’t opened frequently.  Keep the cooler in the shade, and try to cover it with a blanket or tarp to keep it cool. Replenish the ice if it melts.
  • Use the food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and seafood. Use our Is It Done Yet? guide to learn where to place the thermometer in each item. You absolutely can’t tell whether the meat is safely cooked by just looking.
  • If you plan to marinate meat and/or poultry for several hours or overnight prior to the event, make sure to marinate them in the refrigerator – not on the counter. If you plan to reuse the marinade from raw meat or poultry, make sure to boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
  • To ensure safety, leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerated to 40 ⁰F or below within two hours.

If you have food storage questions, download our FoodKeeper application. This app offers guidance on the safe storage or more than 400 food and beverage items. It’ll give you a peace of mind knowing you served your dish safely.

As always, FSIS would like everyone to remember the four easy food safety steps of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill and have a food safe Fourth of July!

If you have questions about the Danger Zone, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

posted 2016

Happy 4th of July


The 4th of July … for many, is just another day; some use it to contemplate on what Independence Day means personally, some partake in public services while others are thinking about war and the intent for independence and the power that it gives.

I admit sometimes it feels like our independence is being compromised every time the Republicans fail to do the right thing for our fellow Americans each day they convene on the floor of Congress.

I grew up in military country; know people who have proudly served, died, live and some who came back damaged.  I think about how war affects our independence and the unimaginable unthinkable things our Soldiers see and go through, having had a brother who suffered through his own horrific journey of war; it could only be seen as a daily dose of hell for him and probably for countless others. So, unless you are a part of the Military or live in a Military town, you can only imagine what a family experiences and as civilians we definitely should be aware and be grateful for their sacrifices

So, as we all celebrate our own style of independence give a shout out to those you know, love and miss who serve and protect us.