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Independence Day Fast Facts

By CNN Library
updated 12:23 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
People watch fireworks burst behind the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington on Thursday, July 4. People across the United States gathered on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day with parades, picnics and fireworks. People watch fireworks burst behind the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington on Thursday, July 4. People across the United States gathered on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day with parades, picnics and fireworks.
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(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about Independence Day, celebrated on the Fourth of July.

America's 238th Independence Day was celebrated on Friday, July 4, 2014.

History:
July 4, 1776 - The Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence while meeting in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Statehouse (now Independence Hall). The Congress declared the American colonies free and independent states. (note: John Hancock signed on July 4th, the rest signed on August 2, 1776.)

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston comprised the committee that drafted the Declaration. Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer, actually wrote most of the document. The committee and Congress as a whole made a total of 86 changes to Jefferson's draft.

First two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence:
"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Other Facts:

Of the $4.0 million spent on the purchase of U.S. flags, $3.9 million was spent on U.S. flags made in China. (Census, 2013)

Of the $213.8 million spent on importing fireworks, $203.6 million was spent importing them from China. U.S exports of fireworks came to $10.2 million. (Census, 2013)

The Fourth of July is the most popular holiday for grilling out (68 percent), followed by Memorial Day (52 percent) and Labor Day (51 percent). (Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 2013)

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest:
The winner eats the most hot dogs and buns within 10 minutes to win prize money and the Mustard Belt.

Joey Chestnut of San Jose, California, has won the title eight times. He also holds the world record for eating 69 hot dogs.

1916 - The Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is held at the original Nathan's Famous at Coney Island.

2010 - Joey Chestnut wins for the fourth straight year by eating 54 hot dogs. Takeru Kobayashi, who didn't compete due to a contract dispute, is arrested while rushing the stage after the event.

2011 - For the first time, men and women compete separately.

2014 - Joey Chestnut wins his eighth consecutive title by eating 61 hot dogs. Miki Sudo wins over Sonya Thomas, eating 34 hot dogs.

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