July 4, 2020
Day 186 of 366
July 4th is the 186th day of the year. It is the first evening of Dree Festival, celebrated until July 7th by the Apatani people in Arunachal Pradesh, India.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Barbecued Spareribs Day, National Caesar Salad Day, and Hop-a-Park Day (which is typically observed on the first Saturday in July).
Historical items of note:
- In 1054, a supernova called SN 1054 was seen by the Chinese Song dynasty, Arabian, and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months it remained bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants formed the Crab Nebula.
- In 1744, the Treaty of Lancaster, in which the Iroquois ceded lands between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River to the British colonies, was signed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
- In 1802, at West Point, New York, the United States Military Academy opened.
- In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the people of the United States.
- In 1817, in Rome, New York, construction began on the Erie Canal.
- In 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively the second and third presidents of the United States, died on the same day. Coincidentally, it was the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”
- In 1827, slavery was abolished in the State of New York.
- In 1831, Samuel Francis Smith wrote “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” for the Boston, Massachusetts July 4th festivities.
- In 1837, Grand Junction Railway, the world’s first long-distance railway, opened between Birmingham and Liverpool.
- In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into a small cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. His account of his two years there, titled Walden, would become a touchstone of the environmental movement.
- In 1855, the first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, Leaves of Grass, was published in Brooklyn.
- In 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story. It would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.
- In 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia withdrew after losing the Battle of Gettysburg. This signaled an end to the Confederate invasion of United States territory.
- In 1872, thirtieth President of the United States Calvin Coolidge was born.
- In 1881, the Tuskegee Institute opened in Alabama.
- In 1892, the first double-decked streetcar service was inaugurated in San Diego, California.
- In 1903, the Philippine-American War was officially concluded.
- In 1910, African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocked out white boxer Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight boxing match, sparking race riots across the United States. Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him.
- In 1924, actress Eva Marie Saint was born.
- In 1927, playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon was born.
- In 1939, Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), informed a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself “The luckiest man on the face of the earth”. He then announced his retirement from major league baseball.
- In 1943, the Battle of Kursk, the largest full-scale battle in history and the world’s largest tank battle, began in the village of Prokhorovka.
- In 1946, after 381 years of near-continuous colonial rule by various powers, the Philippines attained full independence from the United States.
- In 1950, Radio Free Europe first broadcast.
- In 1951, William Shockley announced the invention of the junction transistor.
- In 1960, due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on August 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuted in Philadelphia.
- In 1966, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into law. The act went into effect the next year.
- In 1976, the United States celebrated its Bicentennial.
- In 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder space probe landed on the surface of Mars.
- In 2005, the Deep Impact collider hit the comet Tempel 1.
- In 2006, Space Shuttle Discovery launched mission STS-121 to the International Space Station. It was the only shuttle launch in the program’s history to occur on the United States’ Independence Day.
- In 2012, the discovery of particles consistent with the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider was announced at CERN.
In 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
The Lee Resolution for independence was passed on July 2 with no opposing votes. The Committee of Five – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston – had drafted the Declaration to be ready when Congress voted on independence. John Adams, a leader in pushing for independence, had persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress edited to produce the final version.
The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America.
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That 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; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The first and most famous signature on the engrossed copy was that of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. Two future presidents (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) and a father and great-grandfather of two other presidents (Benjamin Harrison V) were among the signatories. Edward Rutledge (at age 26) was the youngest signer, and Benjamin Franklin (at age 70) was the oldest signer. The fifty-six signers of the Declaration represented the new states.
- New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
- Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
- Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
- Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
- New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
- New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
- Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
- Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean
- Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
- Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
- North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
- South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton
- Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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