Fourth of July Stories

Researched by James R. Heintze. All rights reserved.

This section of the Fourth of July Database contains true stories about events, persons, and places. Each story has been selected based on its content, description, and unique or unusual information. Please refer back to this page occasionally for updated information on this story. For others stories consult the index on the homepage.

A Little Boy Meets the President on the Fourth of July (for 3rd to 5th grade readers)

Franklin Pierce was the 14th president of the United States. Like other presidents he enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of children on the Fourth of July as they jumped and played and eagerly waited for the day's special events to begin.

It was a very hot day on July 4, 1854 in Washington, D.C. The President had been busy in the White House receiving visitors and listening to the music played by marching bands as they passed by his residence.

That evening, he decided to step out to stretch his legs and enjoy the cool of the evening. He put his hat on, walked down the long driveway and made his way across Pennsylvania Avenue onto Monument Square. Thousands of people had gathered there to see the spectacular display of fireworks that was about to begin.

As the President walked among the crowds, a boy approached a gentleman and asked, "When sir, are the fireworks to begin?"

"I don't know," was the reply. "Ask that gentleman with the large hat." The young boy walked up to "that gentleman," who was none other than President Pierce.

The boy asked, "Mister, can you tell me when the fireworks are to begin?"

The President gave the proper information in a mild manner, and the boy ran off to his friends to communicate the news, not dreaming that the man with the large hat was the President of the United States.

Reader Questions:

If you had been President Pierce, would you have left the White House to be with the people at the fireworks display? Did you ever meet someone famous, and didn't know it at the time?

Library Search:

To learn more about President Franklin Pierce, younger readers read Alice Provensen, The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States (Harper & Row, 1990). Fifth graders read Charnan Simon, Franklin Pierce (Chicago: Childrens Press, 1988).


Primary source, Washington Evening Star, July 5, 1854.

This page last updated May 20, 2008.

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