Introduction: In this article, to add to your Fourth of July celebrations, Mary Harrell-Sesniak presents a fun quiz of Independence Day and Founding Fathers trivia. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background.
As 4th of July celebrations are more American than apple pie, I thought our GenealogyBank Blog readers might enjoy an Independence Day trivia quiz.
Perhaps the more historical-minded genealogists already know the answers, but if not, try figuring out these questions about July 4th on your own. Some answers may surprise you. (The answers are shown below.)
1) What year were fireworks first used to celebrate the 4th of July?
2) Why were captured enemy Hessians allowed to participate in the celebrations at Philadelphia on the 4th of July in 1777?
A) The American troops wished to raise morale by humiliating them.
B) They were waiters who served food to the American officers.
C) They were talented musicians.
D) Their capture and subsequent parading through Philadelphia was reenacted.
3) How many rockets were shot in celebration on that glorious day in 1777?
4) What saying was reiterated three times on 4 July 1777?
A) Hip, Hip, Hurray!
B) Long live America!
C) Long live Congress!
D) The Glorious Fourth of July!
5) Which of these presidents died on the 4th of July (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and/or James Monroe)?
A) Adams & Jefferson
B) Adams & Monroe
C) Jefferson & Monroe
D) Adams, Jefferson & Monroe
6) Who died first, Adams, Jefferson or Monroe?
7) What were Jefferson’s last words?
A) “God bless America.”
B) “No, doctor, nothing more.”
C) “May God have mercy on America.”
8) Another Founding Father died on the 4th of July. He was known as the penman of our Bill of Rights. Who was he?
A) Fisher Ames
B) William Blount
C) Thomas Fitzsimmons
D) Robert Morris
9) Which of these persons was not born on the 4th of July?
A) Tom Cruise
B) Malia Obama
C) Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips (Abigail Van Buren, aka “Dear Abby”)
D) Neil Simon (playwright)
10) Why do some people insist that the 2nd of July is our true Independence Day?
A) It was the day the resolution was passed in Congress to declare our independence.
B) It was the day we won a major victory against the British.
C) It was the day the peace treaty was signed ending the war.
Searching for the Answers
Here are the answers to the Fourth of July trivia questions. I came up with many of these questions and answers based on research in old newspapers. An online collection, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, is a great way to learn more about our Colonial and Revolutionary ancestors—and the times they lived in. For example, this 1777 newspaper article provides answers to the first four trivia questions.
The answer to the fifth trivia question can be found in this 1907 newspaper article.
- Question 1: B. 1777 was the first year that America celebrated its Declaration of Independence with fireworks.
- Question 2: C. The Hessian band was used to entertain the troops.
- Question 3: B. Thirteen rockets were shot in honor of the thirteen Colonies.
- Question 4: D. “The Glorious Fourth of July” was repeated three times.
- Question 5: D. Presidents Adams and Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of 4 July 1776 (1826) and President Monroe died on 4 July 1831.
- Question 6: B. Jefferson. Shortly before he died, Adams reportedly said “Thomas Jefferson survives,” but he was mistaken—as Jefferson had passed away earlier that same day.
- Question 7: B. These are Jefferson’s recorded last words, refusing the laudanum being offered by his doctor.
- Question 8: A. Fisher Ames (9 April 1758 – 4 July 1808) was a Representative to Congress from the 1st Congressional District of Massachusetts.
- Question 9: A. Although he appeared in the movie Born on the 4th of July, Tom Cruise was actually born on July 3 in 1962.
- Question 10: A. July 2 was the day that the Declaration of Independence resolution passed Congress. July 4 was the official date printed on the document.