Today in History – July 4

1776 – The amended Declaration of Independence, prepared by Thomas Jefferson, was approved and signed by John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress in America.

1802 – The U.S. Military Academy officially opened at West Point, NY.

1803 – The Louisiana Purchase was announced in newspapers. The property was purchased, by the U.S. from France, was for $15 million (or 3 cents an acre). The “Corps of Discovery,” led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, began the exploration of the territory on May 14, 1804.

1817 – Construction began on the Erie Canal, to connect Lake Erie and the Hudson River.

1845 – American writer Henry David Thoreau began his two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond, near Concord, MA.

1848 – In Washington, DC, the cornerstone for the Washington Monument was laid.

1855 – The first edition of “Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman, was published in Brooklyn, NY.

1863 – The Confederate town of Vicksburg, MS, surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.

1881 – Tuskegee Institute opened in Alabama.

1884 – Bullfighting was introduced in the U.S. in Dodge City, KS.

1886 – The first rodeo in America was held at Prescott, AZ.

1892 – The first double-decked street car service was inaugurated in San Diego, CA.

1894 – After seizing power, Judge Stanford B. Dole declared Hawaii a republic.

1901 – William H. Taft became the American governor of the Philippines.

1910 – Race riots broke out all over the United States after African-American Jack Johnson knocked out Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight boxing match.

1934 – Boxer Joe Louis won his first professional fight.

1934 – At Mount Rushmore, George Washington’s face was dedicated.

1939 – Lou Gehrig retired from major league baseball.

1946 – The Philippines achieved full independence for the first time in over four hundred years.

1955 – The first king cobra snakes born in captivity in the U.S. hatched at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

1957 – The U.S. Postal Service issued the 4¢ Flag stamp.

1959 – The 49-star U.S. flag became official.

1960 – The 50-star U.S. flag made its debut in Philadelphia, PA.

1966 – U.S. President Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act, which went into effect the following year.

1976 – The U.S. celebrated its Bicentennial.

1982 – The Soviets performed a nuclear test at Eastern Kazakhl Semipalitinsk.

1987 – Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison.

1997 – The Mars Pathfinder, an unmanned spacecraft, landed on Mars. A rover named Sojourner was deployed to gather data about the surface of the planet.

1997 – Ferry service between Manhattan and Staten Island was made free of charge. Previously, the charge had ranged from 5 cents to 50 cents.

2004 – In New York, the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center) was laid on the former World Trade Center site.

2005 – NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft took pictures as a space probe smashed into the Tempel 1 comet. The mission was aimed at learning more about comets that formed from the leftover buidling blocks of the solar system. The Deep Impact mission launched on January 12, 2005.

2009 – North Korea launched seven ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast that defied U.N. resolutions.

2009 – The Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened to visitors. It had been closed to the public since 2001.

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