As the United States readies to mark its 238th birthday, here is some background to the most celebrated holiday in America. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, announcing the sovereignty of 13 colonies from the crown across the Atlantic.
According to the Historical Statistics of the United States, at the time of declaration of independence, the approximate number of people living in the new country was around 2.5 million. Fast forward to 2014 and we have close to 318.4 million residents of the 50 united states. The declaration of independence widely celebrated around the country was signed by 56 officials on July 4, 1776. The Committee of Five comprised of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston drafted the Declaration. Jefferson is recognized as the main writers of the document.
Some facts about the Committee of Five members:
* 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 7.4 million businesses with paid employees in the U.S., of those establishments 1 million are in the retail trade industry.
* Benjamin Franklin (age 70), who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest of the signers. Franklin County, Pa., had an estimated population of 152,085 as of July 1, 2013. 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 64,705 people as of July 1, 2013.
As any other big holiday marked in the United States, the Fourth of July is accompanied by a wide range of firework shows. Unsurprisingly, the majority of fireworks used in the United States is imported from China. According to U.S. Census Bureau, the value of fireworks imported from China in 2013 was $213.8 million. The United States, in turn, exported American-made fireworks at a value of just $10.2 million; Israel bought as much as $2.7 million of these exports.
Additionally, the United States imports American flags made in other countries. Out of the these imports in 2013 with a total value of $4 million, flags made in China made up $3.9 million. U.S. itself produced only $781,222 worth of flags, with the biggest export going to the Dominican Republic (around $160,000).
The British with whom the new state fought for independence in 1700’s are now the 7th leading trade partner of the United States. According to the Foreign Trade Statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau, the trade turnover between the two countries in 2013 was $100 billion. The United Kingdom also remains one of America’s staunchest allies, especially after the WWII when Washington provided financial, technical and military assistance to Great Britain through the end of the war.
As of 2014, the United States remains a major superpower and its blue, red and white colored star-spangled banner yet waves.