1636 – City of Providence, Rhode Island, was formed.
1754 – Lieutenant Colonel George Washington is compelled to surrender “Fort Necessity” to a French task force from Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh). Washington had been dispatched by Virginia’s governor with a mixed force of soldiers of the Virginia Provincial Regiment and Virginia militiamen to remove the French from Duquesne which was located in an area claimed by colonial government. When his advanced was blocked by the French Washington had his troops build a quickly constructed log fort in hopes of holding the French at bay. However, he was soon surrounded and forced to surrender. The French commander granted him the “honors of war” by allowing him to march out with colors flying, retaining one piece of artillery and with his men under arms. This rebuff of the claim by Virginia, and by extension Britain, to this area led directly to the outbreak of war between France and Britain in 1756. Known in Europe as the Seven Year’s War in American it’s more popularly called the “French and Indian War.” The men serving in the Virginia Provincial Regiment were full-time paid soldiers, mostly enlisted from the county militias. They were paid and equipped by the colony and used to garrison small outposts and patrol its western frontier. It was one of the first “professional” military organizations in British North America.
1776 – The Continental Congress approved adoption of the amended Declaration of Independence, prepared by Thomas Jefferson and signed by John Hancock–President of the Continental Congress–and Charles Thomson, Congress secretary, without dissent. However, the New York delegation abstained as directed by the New York Provisional Congress. On July 9, the New York Congress voted to endorse the declaration. On July 19, Congress then resolved to have the “Unanimous Declaration” inscribed on parchment for the signature of the delegates. Among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, two went on to become presidents of the United States, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
1776 – The Declaration of Independence was signed by president of Congress John Hancock and secretary Charles Thomson. John Hancock said, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that.” referring to his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Other signers later included Benjamin Rush and Robert Morris. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, eight were born outside North America.
1777 – John Paul Jones hoists first Stars and Stripes flag on Ranger at Portsmouth, NH.
1785 – The first Fourth of July parade was held in Bristol, Rhode Island. It served as a prayerful walk to celebrate independence from England.
1796 – 1st Independence Day celebration was held.
1800 – The Marine Band played at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, in their first public appearance.
1801 – First Presidential Review of U.S. Marine Band and Marines at the White House.
1802 – The United State Military Academy opened its doors at West Point, New York, welcoming the first 10 cadets.
1804 – Staging the first-ever Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi River, Lewis and Clark fire the expedition cannon and order an extra ration of whiskey for the men. Six weeks earlier, Lewis and Clark left American civilization to depart on their famous journey. Since their departure, the party of 29 men–called the Corps of Discovery–had made good progress, traveling up the Missouri River in a 55-foot keelboat and two dugout canoes. When the wind was behind them, Lewis and Clark raised the keelboat sail, and on a few occasions, managed to travel 20 miles in a single day. By early July, the expedition had reached the northeastern corner of the present-day state of Kansas. The fertility of the land astonished the two leaders of the expedition. Clark wrote of the many deer, “as plenty as Hogs about a farm,” and with his usual creative spelling, praised the tasty “rasberreis perple, ripe and abundant.” On this day in 1804, the expedition stopped near the mouth of a creek flowing out of the western prairie. The men asked the captains if they knew if the creek had a name. Knowing none, they decided to call it Independence Creek in honor of the day. The expedition continued upstream, making camp that evening at an abandoned Indian village. To celebrate the Fourth of July, Lewis and Clark commanded that the keelboat cannon be fired at sunset. They distributed an extra ration of whiskey to the men, and the explorers settled back to enjoy the peaceful Kansas night. In his final journal entry of the day, Clark wondered at the existence of, “So magnificent a Senerey in a Contry thus Situated far removed from the Sivilised world to be enjoyed by nothing but the Buffalo Elk Deer & Bear in which it abounds & Savage Indians.” The next day, the travelers resumed their journey up the Missouri River toward the distant Pacific Coast. They would not pass by their pleasant camping spot in Kansas again until their return journey, two years and many adventures later.
1819 – The Territory of Arkansas was created.
1826 – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents of the United States, respectively, die on this day, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Both men had been central in the drafting of the historic document; Jefferson had authored it, and Adams, who was known as the “colossus of the debate,” served on the drafting committee and had argued eloquently for the declaration’s passage. After July 4, 1776, Adams traveled to France as a diplomat, where he proved instrumental in winning French support for the Patriot cause, and Jefferson returned to Virginia, where he served as state governor during the dark days of the American Revolution. After the British defeat at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, Adams was one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris that ended the war, and with Jefferson he returned to Europe to try to negotiate a U.S.-British trade treaty. After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Adams was elected vice president to George Washington, and Jefferson was appointed secretary of state. During Washington’s administration, Jefferson, with his democratic ideals and concept of states’ rights, often came into conflict with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who supported a strong federal government and conservative property rights. Adams often arbitrated between Hamilton and his old friend Jefferson, though in politics he was generally allied with Hamilton. In 1796, Adams defeated Jefferson in the presidential election, but the latter became vice president, because at that time the office was still filled by the candidate who finished second. As president, Adams’ main concern was America’s deteriorating relationship with France, and war was only averted because of his considerable diplomatic talents. In 1800, Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans (the forerunner of the Democratic Party) defeated the Federalist party of Adams and Hamilton, and Adams retired to his estate in Quincy, Massachusetts. As president, Jefferson reduced the power and expenditures of the central government but advocated the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, which more than doubled the size of the United States. During his second administration, Jefferson faced renewed conflict with Great Britain, but he left office before the War of 1812 began. Jefferson retired to his estate in Monticello, Virginia, but he often advised his presidential successors and helped establish the University of Virginia. Jefferson also corresponded with John Adams to discuss politics, and these famous letters are regarded as masterpieces of the American enlightenment. By remarkable coincidence, Jefferson and Adams died on the same day, Independence Day in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” though his old friend and political adversary had died a few hours before.
1831 – James Monroe, 5th President of the United States, died in New York City at age 73, making him the third ex-President to die on Independence Day.
1832 – The song “America” was sung publicly for the first time at a Fourth of July celebration by a group of children at Park Street Church in Boston. The words were written on a scrap of paper in half an hour by Dr. Samuel Francis Smith, a Baptist minister, and were set to the music of “God Save the King.”
1834 – President Andrew Jackson ordered green and buff as the Corps’ uniform colors.
1836 – The territorial government of Wisconsin was established.
1842 – First test of electrically operated underwater torpedo sinks gunboat Boxer.
1848 – The Communist Manifesto was published.
1848 – The Cornerstone of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. was laid by President Polk. The white marble obelisk, which is 555 feet tall and 55 fee square at the base, was not completed until 1184. The public was admitted to the monument on October 9, 1888.
1850 – President Zachary Taylor stood hatless in the sun for hours listening to long-winded speeches. He returned to the White House and attempted to cool off by eating cherries, cucumbers and drinking iced milk. Severe stomach cramps followed and it is likely that Taylor’s own physicians inadvertently killed him with a whole series of debilitating treatments. Taylor died July 9.
1861 – Union and Confederate forces skirmished at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
1862 – Battle at Green River, Ky. (Morgan’s Ohio Raid).
1862 – U.S.S. Maratanza, Lieutenant Stevens, engaged C.S.S. Teaser, Lieutenant Davidson, at Haxall’s on the James River. Teaser was abandoned and captured after a shell from Maratanza exploded her boiler. In addition to placing mines in the river, Davidson had gone down the river with a balloon on board for the purpose of making an aerial reconnaissance of General McClellan’s positions at City Point and Harrison’s Landing. By this time both Union and Confederate forces were utilizing the balloon for gathering intelligence; Teaser had been the Southern counterpart of U.S.S. G. W. Parke Custis, from whose deck aerial observations had been made the preceding year. The balloon, as well as a quantity of insulated wire and mine equipment, were found on board Teaser. Six shells with ”peculiar fuzes” were also taken and sent to Captain Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard for examination.
1863 – Boise, Idaho, was founded.
1863 – The Confederacy is torn in two when General John C. Pemberton surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg. The Vicksburg campaign was one of the most successful campaigns of the war. Although Grant’s first attempt to take the city failed in the winter of 1862-63, he renewed his efforts in the spring. Admiral David Porter had run his flotilla past the Vicksburg defenses in early May as Grant marched his army down the west bank of the river opposite Vicksburg, crossed back to Mississippi, and drove toward Jackson. After defeating a Confederate force near Jackson, Grant turned back to Vicksburg. On May 16, he defeated a force under John C. Pemberton at Champion Hill. Pemberton retreated back to Vicksburg, and Grant sealed the city by the end of May. In three weeks, Grant’s men marched 180 miles, won five battles, and took 6,000 prisoners. Grant made some attacks after bottling Vicksburg, but found the Confederates well entrenched. Preparing for a long siege, his army constructed 15 miles of trenches and enclosed Pemberton’s force of 29,000 men inside the perimeter. It was only a matter of time before Grant, with 70,000 troops, captured Vicksburg. Attempts to rescue Pemberton and his force failed from both the east and west, and conditions for both military personnel and civilians deteriorated rapidly. Many residents moved to tunnels dug from the hillsides to escape the constant bombardments. Pemberton surrendered on July 4, and President Lincoln wrote that the Mississippi River “again goes unvexed to the sea.” The town of Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years.
1863 – General Lee’s army limped toward Virginia after defeat at Gettysburg. 28,063 of 75,000 confederate soldiers were lost. General Meade’s army suffered 23,049 soldiers killed, wounded and missing.
1863 – Paul Joseph Revere, US grandson of Paul Revere, Union brig-gen, died from wounds at Gettysburg.
1863 – Failed Confederate assault on Helena, Arkansas, left 640 casualties.
1863 – Skirmish at Smithburg, TN.
1864 – U.S.S. Hastings, Acting Lieutenant J. S. Watson, engaged Confederate sharpshooters on the White River above St. Charles, Arkansas. Lieutenant Commander Phelps, embarked in the 300-ton, 8-gun Hastings, commented in his report to Rear Admiral Porter: “I had been at a loss to know how we should celebrate the Fourth, being underway and having so much of a convoy in charge, but this attack occurring about noon furnished the opportunity of at once punishing the enemy and celebrating the day by firing cannon.” It had been a year before, on 4 July 1863, that Union forces had commemorated Independence Day with decisive victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the latter pivoting on the Union Navy. With control of the Western waters assured, the North was certain of victory.”
1872 – John Calvin Coolidge (d.1933) 30th President of the United States (1923-29), was born in Plymouth, Vermont. Calvin Coolidge, also known as ‘Silent Cal,’ was a Republican; Vice President from 1921-23 and succeeded to the Presidency on the death of Warren Harding in 1923; elected President in 1924 and served a full term. He was especially known for his economy of language. A lady dinner companion during his presidency told him she had a bet she could get him to say more than two words; he replied: “You lose.” “Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good.”
1875 – White Democrats killed several blacks in terrorist attacks in Vicksburg, Miss.
1884 – The Statue of Liberty was presented to the United States in ceremonies at Paris, France. The 225-ton, 152-foot statue was a gift from France in commemoration of 100 years of American independence. Created by the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the statue was installed on Bedloe Island (now Liberty Island) in New York harbor in 1885. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
1894 – The Provisional Government under Judge Stanford B. Dole declared Hawaii a republic.
1898 – A US flag was hoisted over Wake Island during the Spanish-American War.
1901 – William H. Taft, later the 27th president of the United States, became the American territorial governor of the Philippines. Taft soon appointed Prof. Bernard Moses secretary of public instruction for the Philippines. Taft, who had been solicitor general of the U.S. under President Benjamin Harrison, was a federal circuit court judge when President William McKinley appointed him to serve as president of the U.S. Philippines Commission in 1900-01. Later in 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt named Taft the first civil governor of the Philippines Islands, a post he held for four years. Roosevelt named Taft secretary of war in 1904. A Republican, Taft was president from 1909 to 1913 and Supreme Court Chief Justice from 1921 to 1930. He was born in 1857 and died on March 8, 1930, shortly after his resignation from the court.
1902 – Pres. Roosevelt officially ended the Philippine-American War. Estimates for the civilian people killed ranged from 250,000 to 1 million. Creighton Miller in 1982 published “Benevolent Assimilation,” a comprehensive account of the conflict.
1916 – Tokyo Rose, (Iva Toguri D’Aquino), was born in Los Angeles. She did propaganda broadcasts against the U.S. from Japan during World War II.; imprisoned after the war, then received presidential pardon in 1977.
1917 – During a ceremony in Paris honoring the French hero of the American Revolution, US Lt. Col. Charles E. Stanton declared, “Lafayette, we are here!”
1926 – The NSDAP (Nazi) party formed in Weimar.
1942 – Irving Berlin’s musical review “This Is the Army” opened at the Broadway Theater in New York.
1942 – 1st American bombing mission over enemy-occupied Europe (WW II). US air offensive against Nazi-Germany began. Six American planes join a RAF squadron attacking airfields in Holland.
1943 – On New Georgia, US forces advancing from Zanana to Munda encounter heavy Japanese resistance. The Japanese land 1200 troops from 3 destroyers at Vila on Kolombangara.
1944 – Attacks by the US 7th and 8th Corps (parts of US 1st Army) continue. The Canadian 3rd Division (part of British 2nd Army) captures the village of Carpiquet, west of Caen, but cannot secure the airfield.
1944 – 1,100 US guns fired 4th of July salute at German lines in Normandy.
1944 – Elements of US Task Force 58 attack Guam Island with carrier aircraft.
1944 – Elements of US Task Force 58 attack Chichi Jima Island with carrier aircraft.
1944 – Elements of US Task Force 58 attack Iwo Jima Island with carrier aircraft.
1944 – Japanese made their first kamikaze (god wind) attack on a US fleet near Iwo Jima.
1945 – On Mindanao, the US 24th Division organizes an amphibious expeditionary force to liberate Sarangani Bay, in the south of the island, south of Davao. Filipino guerrilla forces assist in clearing out the Japanese pockets of resistance.
1946 – The Philippines became independent of U.S. sovereignty. The Philippines, which officially became a territory of the United States in 1902, gained its independence. In 1932 a movement to implement Philippine independence began to grow. The Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, providing for independence after 12 years, was unanimously accepted and a Philippine constitution approved by President Roosevelt in February 1935. Manuel Quezon was elected the first president of the Philippines on September 17, 1935. In 1937 a Joint Preparatory Commission on Philippine Affairs was established by Roosevelt to recommend a program for economic adjustment. The Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated.
1950 – General MacArthur informed the communists that the U.N. expected all prisoners of war to be well treated.
1959 – A 49-star flag was raised for the first time at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in honor of Alaska which had become the 49th state in the Union on July 7, 1958.
1960 – The 50-star flag made its debut in Philadelphia. A 50th star was added to the American flag in honor of Hawaii’s admission into the Union on August 21, 1959.
1963 – Gen. Tran Van Don informs Lucien Conein of the CIA that certain officers are planning a coup against South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem, who had been supported by the Kennedy administration, had refused to make any meaningful reforms and had oppressed the Buddhist majority. Conein informed Washington that the generals were plotting to overturn the government. President John F. Kennedy, who had come to the conclusion that the Diem government should no longer be in command, sent word that the United States would not interfere with the coup. In the early afternoon hours of November 1, a group of South Vietnamese generals ordered their troops to seize key military installations and communications systems in Saigon and demanded the resignation of Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu. Diem was unable to summon any support, so he and Nhu escaped the palace through an underground passage to a Catholic church in the Chinese sector of the city. From there, Diem began negotiating with the generals by phone. He agreed to surrender and was promised safe conduct, but shortly after midnight he and his brother were brutally murdered in back of the armored personnel carrier sent to pick them up and return them to the palace. Kennedy, who had given tacit approval for the coup, was reportedly shocked at the murder of Diem and Nhu. Nevertheless, U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge called the insurgent generals to his office to congratulate them and cabled Kennedy that the prospects for a shorter war had greatly improved with the demise of Diem and Nhu.
1968 – The radio astronomy satellite Explorer 38 launched.
1970 – 100 were injured in race rioting in Asbury Park NJ.
1976 – The nation held a 200th anniversary party across the land in celebration of America’s 200 years of independence. President Ford made stops in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and New York, where more than 200 ships paraded up the Hudson River in Operation Sail.
1976 – A government program was begun in 1937 to provide American flags, certified to have flown over the capital, to the public. Each flag was provided a certificate with the date it was flown and the name of the person for whom it was flown. By 1998 the program average 250-300 flags per day with a peak of 10,471 flown on July 4, 1976, and a record of 154,224 flown in 1991.
1982 – The space shuttle Columbia 4 concluded its fourth and final test flight with landing at Edwards AFB.
1987 – Discovery moved to Launch Pad 39B for STS-26 mission.
1994 – The United States opened its embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a Fourth of July party.
1994 – Cutters assigned to Operation Able Manner, which commenced under presidential order on 15 January 1994, rescued 3,247 Haitian migrants from 70 grossly overloaded sailboats in the Windward Passage. They rescued a total of 15,955 during the month of July, 1994.
1995 – The space shuttle “Atlantis” and the Russian space station “Mir” parted after spending five days in orbit docked together.
1997 – After traveling 120 million miles in seven months, NASA’s Mars Pathfinder becomes the first U.S. spacecraft to land on Mars in more than two decades. In an ingenious, cost-saving landing procedure, Pathfinder used parachutes to slow its approach to the Martian surface and then deployed airbags to cushion its impact. Colliding with the Ares Vallis floodplain at 40 miles an hour, the spacecraft bounced high into the Martian atmosphere 16 times before safely coming to rest. On July 5, the Pathfinder lander was renamed Sagan Memorial Station in honor of the late American astronomer, and the next day Sojourner, the first remote-control interplanetary rover, rolled off the station. Soujourner, which traveled a total of 171 feet during its 30-day mission, sent back a wealth of information about the chemical components of rock and soil in the area. In addition, nearly 10,000 images of the Martian landscape were taken. The Mars Pathfinder mission, which cost just $150 million, was hailed as a triumph for NASA, and millions of Internet users visited the official Pathfinder Web site to view images of the red planet.
1999 – In Puerto Rico anti US Navy protests drew some 50,000 people.
1999 – In Russia troops were forced to delay their departure for Kosovo after NATO blocked air corridors on their route.
2001 – The US counter-terrorism group run by Richard Clarke sent a memorandum to Condoleeza Rice, national security advisor, that described a series of steps that the White House had taken to put the nation on heightened terrorist alert. It noted that all 56 FBI field offices were tasked in late June to go to increased surveillance and contact informants related to known or suspected terrorists.
2002 – Hesham Mohamed Hadayet (41), an Egyptian-born 10-year resident of Irvine, opened fire at Israel’s El Al airline ticket counter in Los Angeles’ airport. Victoria Hen and Yaakov Aminov were killed before Hadayet, born July 4, 1961, was shot to death by a guard.
2002 – American warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense system after coming under attack from Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery.
2002 – Benjamin O. Davis Jr. (89), leader of the all-black Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and the first black general in the Air Force, died in Washington.
2003 – President Bush visited Dayton, Ohio, to praise the work of U.S. troops and celebrate the 100th anniversary of flight in the hometown of the Wright brothers.
2003 – US forces raided a Turkish special forces office in northern Iraq and detained 11 soldiers on reports that Turks were plotting to kill the governor of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
2003 – A voice purported to be Saddam Hussein’s, aired on the Arab television station Al-Jazeera, said he is in Iraq directing attacks on American forces and called on Iraqis to help the resistance against the US-led occupation.
2003 – Liberia’s President Charles Taylor, under US pressure to quit, said he had agreed to step down. A senior Nigerian official said Taylor had accepted an offer of asylum.
2004 – In NYC a 20-ton slab of granite, inscribed to honor “the enduring spirit of freedom,” was laid at the World Trade Center site as the cornerstone of the skyscraper that will replace the destroyed towers.
2004 – The Army’s 1st Armored Division stowed its flags and prepared to head home after the longest tour in Iraq of any American combat command — 15 months.
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