The annual celebration of the signing of the Declaration of independence is almost upon us. As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at how some of America's most distinguished gentlemen have spent that holiday.

So without further ado, here is how past presidents have spent the Nation's birthday while serving as the leader of our country.

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George Washington Stayed in Bed

The country's first president didn't do much to celebrate the 13th birthday. Washington was reportedly ill on July 4, 1789, and spent the day in bed. But he did write a letter to the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, stating he had received their congratulations on that day, according to The Writings of George Washington.

In fairness to Washington, Fourth of July celebrations didn't really catch on until about 1820, and Independence Day wasn't declared a federal holiday until 1870.


Thomas Jefferson hosted the first Independence Day reception in 1801.

Thomas Jefferson, one of two Presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence Jefferson was also one of three consecutive presidents to die on the Fourth of July. Both he and John Adams, another signer of the Declaration of Independence, died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. James Monroe, the nation's fifth president, died on July 4, 1831.







The Fourth of July may indeed have caused Zachary Taylor's death.

The Fourth of July may have killed President Zachary Taylor

AP: Zachary Taylor's reinterment in 1991.

Taylor probably had the worst Fourth of July of any president in U.S. history. After attending a ceremony at the Washington Monument on a very hot day, Taylor went to an outdoor party where he reportedly indulged in a bowl of cherries and cream that had been in the sun all day.

Over the following days, Taylor suffered from stomach pains and vomiting. He died a few days later.

Some historians argue that it was cholera or dysentery, but it still probably wasn't a good idea to eat food cooked in the July sun. There have also been theories that Taylor was assassinated, but a 1991 test of his remains found no evidence of poisoning.


Abraham Lincoln started winning the Civil War


Abe Lincoln
Fourth of July holidays were action-packed during the Lincoln administration.

On his first Independence Day as president, Lincoln called an "extraordinary" session of Congress and delivered his famous Fourth of July address, which laid out his reasons for going to war with the South and asked Congress to retroactively approve the suspension of habeas corpus.

Two years later, on July 4, 1863, the Confederate Army surrendered at Vicksburg, marking a turning point in for the Union in the Civil War. Although Lincoln didn't learn about it until a few days later, he celebrated the victory with another famous "Fourth of July" speech, delivered to a massive crowd from an upper window at the White House.


Woodrow Wilson spent July 4, 1917 trying to come up with a plan for U.S. military action in World War I.

Woody at Work


Dwight played a LOT of golf


Lyndon B. Johnson spent his Fourth of Julys at his ranch in Texas.

LBJ at Play


Gerald Ford pulled out all the stops for the bicentennial in 1976.

Abe Lincoln
For the country's bicentennial celebration, Ford hosted a huge celebration at Valley Forge, Pa., the site where the American army camped the winter of 1777 during the Revolutionary War. He signed legislation there that transferred ownership of the land to the National Park Service.

He closed out the historic day with a visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia.


Jimmy Carter was the first president to turn the White House lawn into a tailgate.


And the ever unstoppable Ronald Reagan, still recovering from his assassination attempt, managed to have a good time.


George W. Bush spent the day sweating at Fort Bragg, NC. It was also his birthday. (not really but he celebrated it on the 4th for some reason.)


Barak Obama does the same thing every year, he celebrates his daughter Maila's birthday.


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