The Ten Most Dramatic July 4th’s in American History

July 2, 2013

The Top Ten Most Dramatic July 4ths in American History.

There are many dramatic days in the history of our Fourth of July.  Two American presidents were born on that day, Ulysses S. Grant and Calvin Coolidge.  George Steinbrenner, Geraldo Rivera and Malia Obama are just a few of the many public figures who celebrate their birthdays on July 4th.  It was on this day in 1939 that Lou Gerhig appeared at Yankee Stadium and gave his retirement speech, calling himself “the luckiest man on earth.”  And on this day in 2004, the cornerstone was laid for the Freedom Tower in New York City, a building that would rise from the ashes of the World Trade Center.

Here, in chronological order, are ten of the most dramatic July 4ths in American history.

1.) 1776:  The Second Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence.

2.) 1802: U.S. Military Academy opens at West Point.

3.) 1826: Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, and John Adams, the second president, both die. American songwriter Stephen Foster is born.

4.) 1831: President James Monroe dies.  Samuel Francis Smith writes “My Country Tis of Thee” for July 4th festivities.

5.) 1863: The Union armies win the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi.  Both victories are crucial.  It is the turning point of the Civil War.

6.) 1876: News of the Battle of the Little Big Horn reaches New York City.  It is learned that George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry were massacred by Sitting Bull and the Sioux Indians on June 25.  The nation goes into shock as the news from the remote battlefield finally reaches civilization.  It is the 9-11 of its generation.

7.) 1881: President James Garfield hovers between life and death after being shot twice on July 2.  He would die in September.  His vice president Chester Arthur would become president.

8.) 1886: The Statue of Liberty is given to the United States by the nation of France.

9.) 1946: The U.S. grants independence to the Philippines.  America reaffirms to the world that it is not an empire but respects the independence of nations.

10.) 1997: US Pathfinder space probe lands on the planet Mars.

 


July 4th Trivia for the 2013 celebration

July 1, 2013

Which three presidents died on the Fourth of July?
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.  Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third president, both died on the same day in 1826, Monroe died in 1831. (Thanks to David Gurowsky for catching a typo on the dates.)

What other presidents died close to the 4th of July?
On July 4, 1850, President Zachary Taylor attended ceremonies for the Washington Memorial and returned to the White House for a bowl of cherries and milk. He became sick to his stomach that night and died five days later. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was shot. He died several months later.

How many people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th?
Only two.

When was the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence?
It was July 8, 1776.  The Liberty Bell rang out from Independence Hall to summon the crowd.

On what date did most of the signers actually sign the doc?
August 2, 1776.

Who was the oldest signatory?
Benjamin Franklin. He was 70.

Who was the youngest?
Edward Rutledge.  He was 26 years old.  Rutledge owned 50 slaves. He later became governor of South Carolina.

Name the State that had the most delegates sign?
Pennsylvania.  There were nine. 

Who was the last signatory of the Declaration of Independence?

Thomas McKean, January, 1777. He was at one time the president of the continental congress, later became a governor of Pa.

When did Abraham Lincoln give his 1863, July fourth address?
On July 7, 1863. On July 4, citizens in Washington were celebrating what appeared to be a victory at Gettysburg and wanted Lincoln to give a speech but he would only issue a short proclamation. He was waiting to get a complete report and for further news out west, where General Grant was laying siege to Vicksburg. He later found out that Vicksburg had fallen on July 4th. Lincoln gave his speech three days late.

What other countries celebrate the 4th of July?
Denmark, Norway, Sweden and England.

In what year did July 4 become a paid legal federal holiday?
It became an unpaid federal holiday in 1870. And a lot of trivia sites say that it became a paid holiday in 1941 but it was actually passed by congress in 1938.

How did Nathan’s, Fourth of July, Hot Dog contest begin?
It started out as a dispute among four immigrants over who was the most patriotic. And so, that explains why this country is overweight. We are patriotic?

What American President was famous for playing golf every Fourth of July?
Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What modern First Lady wore a bejeweled American Flag in her lapel on every Fourth of July? Pat Nixon, Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton or Betty Ford?
Jackie Kennedy. And the jewelry actually sells on e-bay.


July 4, 1863

July 8, 2009

by Doug Wead

All this business about the fourth of July missed one of the more remarkable days in American history. I am speaking of July 4th, 1863. There were celebrations in the streets of Washington because of the apparent outcome of the battle of Gettysburg. The people of the north were hungry for a victory and they thought this was it. They massed around the White House calling on the president to give a speech.

Well, Abraham Lincoln was not so sure. He had been disappointed before. What they all knew was that General Meade and the Union armies had held their ground at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania against Robert E. Lee and a Confederate invasion of the north. On July 4th, Lee and his army was returning South.

Abraham Lincoln was very circumspect, he just issued a statement. He was awaiting the outcome of the battle of Vicksburg, which would have divided the Confederacy and taken full control of the mighty Mississippi River. And that battle was still hanging in the balance. Or so Lincoln thought.

But as is often the case, the people were right. Gettysburg was huge. It all but guaranteed that Great Britain would not recognize the Confederacy. And unbeknown to them all, on that very day, Southern General Pemberton was surrendering to Ulysses S. Grant in Vicksburg and the Union was winning that battle too. So July 4, 1863 marked the turning point in the Civil War. And it was one of Lincoln’s greatest moments, he just didn’t find out about it until a few days later.

And that is how Abraham Lincoln came to give his July 4th speech, three days later on July 7, 1863.


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