James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Answers to the July 4th Trivia Quiz

by James M. Lindsay
July 4, 2012

Boy Scouts carry an American flag during last year's July 4th parade in Independence, Iowa. (Jessica Rinaldi/courtesy Reuters) Boy Scouts carry an American flag during last year's July 4th parade in Independence, Iowa. (Jessica Rinaldi/courtesy Reuters)

Here are the answers for the second annual TWE July 4th trivia quiz. If you got all the questions right without Googling for the answers, a tip of the TWE cap to you. However well you did, take some time today to read the Declaration of Independence. Its message is timeless. This is a great country. Enjoy the holiday.

1. Which state was the first to make July 4th an official holiday?

c. Massachusetts. While Americans began celebrating independence only days after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Massachusetts was the first state to make it an official holiday. It did so in 1781, months before the George Washington accepted Lord Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown and effectively won the American Revolutionary War.

2. Whose signature on the Declaration of Independence is the largest?

b. John Hancock. Popular legend has it that Hancock signed his name in big letters so that King George III could read it without his spectacles. Alas, like so many great stories, it turns out not to be true. The delegates to the Second Continental Congress did not sign the Declaration on July 4, 1776, and it’s unclear whether Hancock even signed the version that went to the printer that night. The first printed version to appear, the Dunlap Broadside, featured only his name and even then only in type. The signature we are familiar with today came when Hancock signed the so-called engrossed copy of the Declaration on August 2, 1776.

3. Joey Chestnut goes for his sixth straight Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest championship tomorrow. The contest, which takes place in Coney Island, New York and will be broadcast live on ESPN, has been held every year on July 4th since when?

b. 1916

4. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a landmark piece of legislation on July 4, 1966. What was it?

d. Freedom of Information Act

5. The Census Bureau estimates that the population of the United States today is 313.9 million. Approximately how many people were living in the thirteen American colonies on July 4, 1776?

c. 2.5 Million. Or less than the population of the city of Chicago today (2.7 million).

6. When did July 4th become a paid federal holiday throughout the United States?

c. January 14, 1941. In 1938, Congress passed a law making July 4th a federal holiday, but the law excluded employees of the District of Columbia. The law was amended three years late to include Washington, D.C, thereby making July 4th a paid Federal holiday throughout the United States.

7. Which country, other than the United States, purchases the most American flags?

c. Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mexico was the leading consumer of American flag exports, purchasing more than $80,000 worth of them last year.

8. Which actor earned his first Academy Award nomination for playing the lead role in the movie Born on the Fourth of July?

 a. Tom Cruise. He played the role of Ron Kovic, a U.S. Marine born on the Fourth of July who was shot and paralyzed in Vietnam and returned to the United States to become a peace activist.

9. Which country manufactures the vast majority of the fireworks that Americans will use to celebrate the Fourth of July?

 b. China. The United States imported $232.3 million worth of fireworks from China last year.

10. Which current resident of the White House was born on July 4th?

c. Malia Obama. She was born on July 4, 1998 in Chicago, Illinois.

11. Who proposed the original resolution of independence at the Second Continental Congress?

c. Richard Henry Lee. As a member of the Virginia delegation to the Second Continental Congress, Lee took to the floor on June 7, 1776 and resolvedthat these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved.” Two other things to know about Richard Henry Lee. First, he led the opposition in Virginia to the ratification of the Constitution that his fellow Virginian, James Madison, wrote, believing that it gave too much power to the federal government. Second, his great nephew was Robert E. Lee.

12. What song, written by Samuel Francis Smith, debuted on July 4, 1831 and was regarded by many Americans as the de facto national anthem until Congress made the Star Spangled banner the official national anthem in 1931?

d. My Country Tis of Thee

13. If you are a fan of the New York Yankees you know that long-time Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was born on July 4th. Who is the only current owner of a Major League Baseball team who was born on July 4th?

a. Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He was born on July 4, 1929 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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