This Day in History: July 4

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On this day, July 4 …

1776: The Declaration of Independence is adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Also on this day:

  • 1802: The United States Military Academy officially opens at West Point, New York.
  • 1817: Ground is broken for the Erie Canal in Rome, N.Y. The middle section of the waterway takes three years to complete; the entire canal would be finished in 1825.
  • 1826: Fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die.
  • 1831: James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president, dies in New York City at age 73.

  • 1910: In what is billed as “The Fight of the Century,” black world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson defeats white former champ James J. Jeffries in Reno, Nevada.
  • 1929: Al Davis, longtime owner of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, is born in Massachusetts.
  • 1930: George Steinbrenner, longtime owner of MLB’s New York Yankees, is born in Ohio.
NEW YORK - JULY 4, 1939. Lou Gehrig, first baseman for the New York Yankees, is shown at the microphone during Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, a farewell to the slugger, at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lou Gehrig

NEW YORK – JULY 4, 1939. Lou Gehrig, first baseman for the New York Yankees, is shown at the microphone during Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, a farewell to the slugger, at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lou Gehrig

  • 1939: Lou Gehrig delivers his famous farewell speech in which he called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”
  • 1987: Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the “Butcher of Lyon”, is convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison.
  • 1997: NASA’s Pathfinder spacecraft lands on Mars, inaugurating a new era in the search for life on the red planet.
  • 2009: The Statue of Liberty’s crown is reopened to tourists for the first time since the Sept.11, 2001 attacks.
  • 2017: The United States confirms that North Korea had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, as the North had boasted and the U.S. and South Korea had feared.


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