On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. This most American of holidays will be marked with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues across the country.
2.5 millionIn July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.
321.4 millionThe nation's estimated population on July 4 last year.
56The number of signers to the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston comprised the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration. Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer, wrote most of the document.
It is also worth noting that:
• John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, was the first signer, and a merchant by trade. In 2014, there were 7.6 million business establishments with paid employees in the U.S.; 1.1 million, like Hancock, were in the retail trade industry.
• Benjamin Franklin, who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest of the signers at age 70. Franklin County, Pa., had an estimated population of 153,638 as of July 1, 2015. Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, was the youngest at age 26.
• 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 64,717 people as of July 1, 2015.
• Representing Georgia in 1776 were Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall and George Walton. Gwinnett County, Ga. (895,823); Hall County, Ga. (193,535); and Walton County, Ga. (88,399) were named for these signers.
• Charles Carroll, who represented Maryland, was the last surviving signer of the Declaration. He died in 1832 at the age of 95. Carroll County, Md., named for him, had an estimated population of 167,627 as of July 1, 2015.
• Roger Sherman, who worked as a land surveyor and lawyer, represented Connecticut. In 2014, there were an estimated 30,688 surveyors, cartographers and photogrammetrists employed full time, year-round, and 861,223 lawyers employed full time, year-round nationwide.
• Nelson County, Va. (14,785) and Wythe County, Va. (29,119) were named for two of the six signers who represented the state of Virginia—Thomas Nelson Jr. and George Wythe.