Happy 4th of July
The fourth of July is a strange time. The days have already started getting shorter* but it feels like summer just began (especially this year). It commemorates the date in 1776 when our country
declared adopted the declaration of its independence from England after nearly two hundred years of colonial contentment.** If you consider that fact, our 237th birthday as an independent nation sounds young. Some things to consider:
–Hawaii, our youngest state, is only 54 years old this August.*** My home state (Wisconsin) is 165 this year and my adopted states (New York and Minnesota) are 225 and 155, respectively.
–We have had 44 presidents but only 43 different men; Grover Cleveland served as both our 22nd and 24th President. How’d you like to have been Benjamin Harrison? He defeated GC in the 1888 election, then lost to him in a rematch in 1892.**** Jimmy Carter was the first President to have been born in a hospital.
–Three presidents have died on July 4, two on the same July 4: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826 (the 50th Anniversary of the [adopted] Declaration of Independence, which they both signed). James Monroe died five years later to the day.
–The smallest state (by area) is Rhode Island. You could fit roughly 430 (429 1/3) Rhode Islands inside the largest state (by area), which is Alaska. However, Rhode Island has a population of over 1 million people, whereas Alaska’s population isn’t quite 3/4 of that. Juneau, Alaska is the second largest city by area at more than 3,000 square miles.
–Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.
–Even though women were involved in every major event in our history (Hello Pocahontas, Betsy Ross, Harriet Tubman, Anne Dudley Bradstreet, Sacagawea, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Judith Sargent Murray, Dorothea Dix, Elizabeth Blackwell, Louisa Ann Swain, and so on and so on), women weren’t allowed to vote until 1919.**** Warren G. Harding would have been the first president they could have helped elect. He’s our 29th–we’ve only had 15 since then. Even more impressive/messed up: men had to vote to give women the right to vote, since women weren’t involved in the Senate or House at that time. Wisconsin was one of the first three states to ratify this amendment (Go Wisconsin!), but some states (ahem, the South) didn’t ratify it until 1969 (Florida, South Carolina), the early 1970s (Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina) or as late as 1984 (Mississippi–two days before my younger sister was born).*****
–Some birthdays to celebrate today:
Malia Obama turns 15 today. Ann Landers (and her twin, Dear Abby) were born in 1918; they would have been 95 but Ann died 11 years ago in Chicago, and Abby died this year in Minneapolis. Calvin Coolidge, Gina Lollabrigida, Eva Marie Saint, George Steinbrenner, Neil Simon, and Stephen Foster were also born on July 4. Different years. So this 4th of July walk barefoot in the park or watch a Yankees game, give (solicited) advice or sing Camptown Races or Oh! Susanna to celebrate not only the birth of our nation but also some fabulous people.
In my own circle, I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to Natalie V. and a Happy Belated Birthday (yesterday) to Jeremy M., one of my most loyal readers. Enjoy the day off!
*I find it weird that the first day of “summer” is also the time that the days start getting shorter. Real nice, Mother Nature, real nice.
**Aside from, you know, our horrible treatment of the Native Americans.
***Of course, there were people living there before that…
****You’re such a bad president, we are going back to the guy who ran against you–and lost–last time, and he’s already been president, and we’re still voting him back in.
*****Really 1920. That’s within my grandmother’s lifetime.
******That’s within my lifetime. It was still a law, since 3/4 of the states had ratified it in 1920, but still. C’mon, Mississippi. That’s just sad.