4th of July in History

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 Events That

Occurred On

The 4th Of July

For Americans, the 4th of July is one of the most significant dates in history. Yet, what many may not know is that a host of other historically significant events also occurred on this particular day. Here are ten of the most important for world history, arranged chronologically.

10. The Battle of Mantinea (362 BC)

Battle-of-Mantinea

In a battle of Greek city-states, the Thebans, led by Epaminondas, actually managed to defeat the famed Spartans. Epaminondas won the battle while fighting in the front line, resulting in him sustaining a fatal wound. To make matters worse for the “victors,” the two Theban leaders whom he intended to succeed him perished. A dying Epaminondas thus instructed the Thebans to make peace, despite having won the battle. As a consequence, Theban hopes for hegemony faded, while the Spartans were unable to replace their losses. Because both sides had lost their most capable leaders at Mantinea and its aftermath, the battle paved the way for the Macedonian rise as the leading force in Greece. An ascendant Macedon went on to unite most of Greece, in a campaign under Alexander the Great that conquered most of the Persian Empire, including Egypt.

9. A Major Turning Point In The Crusades (1187)

Saladin

During the Crusades at the Battle of Hattin, Saladin defeated and captured Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem. French knight Raynald of Châtillon died in the aftermath, personally beheaded by Saladin. The Muslim victory set the stage for their march on Jerusalem, which they besieged successfully a few months later in the Autumn of 1187. These two victories destroyed the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, and thereby directly resulted in the coming Third Crusade, a major event in world history in which the Holy Roman Emperor joined with the kings of England and France to attempt to retake Jerusalem. They failed and as such, Saladin’s destruction of the Crusader army at Hattin, capture of Jerusalem’s king, and conquest of Jerusalem itself had long-lasting consequences for Middle Eastern history. If somehow Guy would have triumphed instead and prevented Saladin from moving on Jerusalem, the history of the Crusades and, therefore, of Christian and Muslim relations could have been quite different.

8. THE 4th of July (1776)

declaration-of-independence

During the American Revolution, The United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. Yet, American independence was not immediately recognized by the British. So, in 1778, American forces under George Clark captured Kaskaskia during the Illinois campaign, one of many victories that would eventually encourage the British to acknowledge America’s independence. The result meant that the United States Declaration of Independence would go down as one of the most important documents of American times. At least two dozen countries around the world drew upon this document when drafting their own declarations of independence, in the nineteenth through twentieth centuries. Moreover, that it inspired Americans to successful liberate themselves from British rule was not only a hallmark in notions of human rights, but also in ideas of democracy. Consider the number of absolutist governments in the centuries before 1776 versus the increasing number of constitutional governments in the years afterwards. America’s success inspired many other countries’ elder statesmen, whose words regarding freedom bear obvious resemblance to that established by Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe.

7. The Deaths of America’s Founders (1826 and 1831)

july-4-dead-presidents

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, died the same day in 1826 as John Adams, second president of the United States, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Just a few years later, fellow founding father, and fifth President of the United States, James Monroe passed away on July 4th, 1831. That three of the first five American presidents died on the 4th of July is not only obviously symbolic, it also reflects something of the end of an era for the first leaders of one of history’s most powerful countries. Their passing was not just the deaths of well-known American politicians, but giants of Western civilization whose legacy still appears visually in numerous monuments, films, and even on currency


6. Alice First Entered Wonderland (1862)

alice-in-wonderland

On July 4th, 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels. Wonderland was subsequently published on July 4th, 1865. The number of adaptations of the book and its sequel, in films, television, and video games is enormous. Allusions to Carroll’s stories in popular culture are incredibly pervasive, especially throughout the Anglophone world, but also in non-English speaking cultures as well. Stories about Alice rival the Oz books and the writings of Jules Verne as far as being regularly adapted in various media over the years is concerned.

5. The Turning Points Of the American Civil War Concluded (1863)

ulysses-s-grant

During the American Civil War, Vicksburg, Mississippi was surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant after 47 days of siege, while 150 miles up the Mississippi River, a Confederate Army was repulsed at the Battle of Helena in Arkansas. On the same day, The Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from the battlefield after its loss at the Battle of Gettysburg, signaling an end to the Southern invasion of the North. These three defeats represented the turning point of the American Civil War. They prevented any remaining chance that a European power might intervene militarily on the South’s behalf. They also demonstrated decisively that the South could not successfully invade the North. For the remainder of the war, the South was now entirely on the defensive and, although she held out for two more years, they were two disastrous years that resulted in the deaths of numerous Southerners.

4. The New Colossus Enlightened the World (1884)

Statue-of-Liberty-1800s

The people of France offered the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World to the people of the United States on July 4th, 1884. The two allies participated in this symbolic act nearly a hundred years after both of their revolutions began in (1776 for America, and 1789  for France.) The erection of the sculpture symbolized the triumph of Enlightenment ideas of liberty, ideas that continue to enrapture large chunks of humanity. Moreover, the magnificence and endurance of the sculpture has led many to refer to it as a “wonder of the modern world,” and “The New Colossus.”

3. The End Of A Dynasty (1918)

tsar-nicholas-II

When Bolsheviks killed future Orthodox saints Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family, they effectively ended the Romanov dynasty that ruled the Russian Empires, one of the largest countries in human history after centuries of rule. The event also foreshadowed the end of other European dynasties amidst the cataclysmic First World War. Following the Russian examples, the Habsburgs of Austria, the Hohenzollerns of Germany, and the Ottomans of Turkey were also toppled by their people in rapid succession.

2. Modern Warfare Was At Its Most Massive Scale (1943)

battle-of-kursk

During World War II, the Battle of Kursk (the largest full-scale battle in history and the world’s largest tank battle) began at Prokhorovka Village on July 4th, 1943. The battle resulted in over a million casualties on both sides (Germans versus Soviets) and the loss of over 10,000 tanks, guns, and aircraft. This decisive Soviet victory crippled Germany’s offensive power in the East, in what was Germany’s final strategic offensive on that front, and thus the final realistic chance for them to turn the tide on the Eastern Front.

1. Filipino Independence Achieved (1946)

Philippines-Independence-Day

After 381 years of near-continuous colonial rule by various powers, the Philippines attained full independence from the United States. The independence of the Philippines coincided with a global trend in the years following World War II in which many African and Asian countries, previously colonized by Western powers, achieved their independence after centuries of Western domination.


4th of July

in History

Your John Hancock – Declaration of Independence Signers

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Forgotten Signers

of the

Declaration of

Independence

What elementary school student in America couldn’t tell you about Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, two of the most famous signers of one of the three most momentous documents of American history? Most middle school students could go a little further and tell you about second president John Adams or John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, if only because of his most prominent signature.

That leaves 52 people who risked execution by making it official that the colonies were, and of right ought to have been, free, independent states whom most people probably couldn’t name. That doesn’t mean they weren’t themselves fascinating figures who are owed more prominent positions in posterity than history has provided them. Let’s do our small part to correct this.

10. James Wilson

A successful lawyer and esteemed judge by the time he became a congressional delegate for Pennsylvania, James Wilson had lent a practical sensibility to the revolution with his 1774 pamphlet “Considerations of the Nature and Extent of Legislative Authority in British Parliament” which argued that parliament had no authority to write laws for the colonies. It had been particularly popular reading among the congressional delegates in the meetings leading up to the Declaration.

Why He’s Forgotten:

In no small part is because of how badly he disgraced himself from 1777 on with gambling, speculation, and profiteering. The fledgling nation didn’t want to draw extra attention to someone like that after he’d served his purpose. He also was accused in 1779 of raising food prices in Philadelphia so high it led to riots that nearly cost him his life. These were the sorts of things that could overshadow a career that had never really become iconic with the public anyway.

Curiously, in the stage musical 1776, possibly his best opportunity to become a household name again, James Wilson is portrayed as voting in favor of declaring independence only as a means of remaining historically anonymous because doing so would be going with the crowd. This is quite ridiculous, as Wilson had clearly been a vocal advocate of separation before votes for independence were even being discussed, but the fact the authors of 1776 got away with it showed how far his star had fallen.

9. William Whipple

A former sailor who’d taken part in the

slave trade in the West Indies, William Whipple at least partially redeemed himself from a modern perspective by being one of the few members of Continental Congress who freed his slaves during his lifetime. During the Revolution he took the rank of brigadier general, distinguished himself at the vital American victory at Saratoga, and lost a leg from a cannon ball in 1778.

Why He’s Forgotten:

One of the contributions to his late life unpopularity was that he took a job in 1782 as the New Hampshire Superintendent of Finance, which unfortunately brought with it collecting taxes. It made him something of a pariah for doing a vital job, but also the fact it was an extremely difficult job (not aided by health problems his lost leg brought on) meant he did not collect enough money to please his colleagues either. Even a Founding Father sometimes cannot escape public scorn just for taking an unpopular but necessary job.

8. Elbridge Gerry

A Harvard graduate who became a merchant, and then was elected to Massachusetts Legislature in 1774, Elbridge Gerry’s main duties during his time in the Continental Congress (aside from signing the most important document) was in the naval and commercial departments. After the Revolution, he was part of the the Constitutional Convention, and came out of it hating the Constitution too much to sign it.

Why He’s Forgotten:

While the man himself is not remembered, he has a sort of unflattering legacy. Following his 1811 election as governor of Massachusetts, it was observed that the districts in his state were drawn to unfairly favor the Democratic-Republicans, which was dubbed “the salamander” by a cartoon in the Boston Globe. Perhaps you’ve heard the portmanteau “Gerrymander” lately in this politically charged climate. It’s the sort of thing that can easily overshadow the rest of a career, however distinguished it might have been.

7. Edward Rutledge

During his time in the Continental Congress as a delegate from South Carolina, former law student Edward Rutledge stood out in two ways according to the National Park Service. For one, he proposed a delay when the motion for independence was first made on June 7. Ostensibly it was to allow the colonies to arm themselves and reach out to foreign powers for alliances. The other way was that he was a mere 26 years old at the time, making him the youngest signatory. Indeed, today he’d be four years too young to even be a member of the Senate.

During the Revolutionary War he joined the army as a militia captain. While he was initially successful at the Battle of Port Royal, during the Battle of Charleston in 1780 he and thousands of other American soldiers were captured. He spent the rest of the war in irons.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Rutledge’s position as a political moderate left him initially opposed to the movement for independence. This has led a number of dramas, such as HBO’s John Adams to paint him as being completely opposed to revolution. It’s really quite unfair, as by the time of the vote he was the one who persuaded the rest of the divided South Carolinian delegates to vote for independence. Still, history found it harder to view the cool-headed, initially incorrect moderate as one of the inspirational founders of the nation, even though he was a military hero.

6. Richard Stockton

This delegate from New Jersey was such a successful lawyer before the revolution that King George III himself expressed a favorable opinion of him. Nevertheless, taxes such as the infamous Stamp Act had left Richard Stockton deeply in favor of independence, and in fact he became a delegate after New Jersey voters learned in 1776 that their original delegates intended to vote to stay with Great Britain, so he was one of two swapped in.

Why He’s Forgotten:

 Stockton was by far the least lucky signatory. In 1776 he was attempting to save his family after the British army invaded New Jersey and was captured. He held out in prison for five cold, agonizing weeks with the threat of execution for treason hanging over him before being offered a pardon in exchange for swearing to not take part in the rest of the war. Stockton accepted and resigned from  Congress, which was viewed as a general renouncement of the Revolution. He went back to teaching law, but tragically he was afflicted with cancer of the lip and lived only two more years, in pain to the end and widely held to be the Benedict Arnold of the Continental Congress.

5. Joseph Hewes

Before he became a delegate from North Carolina, Joseph Hewes was a highly successful sea merchant with a fleet of ships. So while in congress, he was basically one of the resident experts on maritime issues for the colonies. This might sound minor relative to the issues of the fate of nations, but it was actually a much-disputed issue during the debates. During the war itself, he offered his ships to be used for the Continental Navy.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Hewes didn’t survive the war. In 1779, he attended his final session of congress twelve days before his death on November 10. Thusly he was not able to continue distinguishing himself in the eyes of the new nation. His wife had also died in 1766 and he never remarried or had any children, so there was less of a family line to keep his name in the public consciousness.

4. Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis was born in Britain, went to America to found successful businesses around Philadelphia and New York, and became a military contractor. When the Seven Years War was started by George Washington, Lewis volunteered to join the army as an aide to General Hugh Mercer. Despite the relatively safe position he was taken prisoner. At the end of the war he was awarded 5,000 acres of land by the government of New York. Thus when he became one of the New York delegates, he was one of the greatest success stories among the distinguished traitors.

Why He’s Forgotten:

It turned out that the war would cost him almost everything. Long Island was lost to the colonials almost immediately during the war and with it his wife Elizabeth and their estate. His estate was destroyed and his wife treated abominably, the record stating that she had to sleep on the ground for months. Washington himself had to literally threaten to abuse the wife of a British official who’d been taken prisoner, though the long abusive treatment had left Elizabeth Lewis traumatized and she died shortly after. Though Lewis long survived the war, dying in 1803 at age 90, he lost his fortune and fell into obscurity.

3. Caesar Rodney

A former sheriff and delegate from Delaware, Caesar Rodney certainly seems like he should have been one of the most remembered figures to sign the Declaration. He was credited with casting the deciding vote for independence by providing one of two votes among the Delaware delegates for it. On the night before the vote he had ridden 80 miles through a storm to be present. And he also had the best name on this list, if we’re being honest.

Why He’s Forgotten:

Rodney’s vote actually went against the will of his constituents. Even as he made the most important vote of his life, his base turned against him and he was subsequently voted out of office. Public opinion had swung back in his favor by 1782 sufficiently for him to be elected back to national congress but he wasn’t healthy enough to take the office.

On the subject of his health, at the time Caesar Rodney signed the Declaration he was suffering from the cancer that would kill him eight years later. When he made that historic signature it had eaten away roughly half his face. He is thusly not included in John Trumbull’s famous painting of the vote and fits oddly with the way Americanhistorical propaganda tried to deify the Founding Fathers. Even the Delaware state quarter, which features him, does so with him at some distance on a horse. Some people just have to put up with ten times as much to receive one tenth the acknowledgement they deserve.

2. John Hart

John Hart came from such a simple, rustic farm background that the exact date he was born was not recorded except that it was around 1715. From that simple background he still became enough of a success that he spent ten years in the New Jersey state assembly. After that he went from committee to committee on his way to the Continental Congress.

Why He’s Forgotten:

The ink on the Declaration was scarcely dry before extreme hardship befell Hart. Most of all, just months after that momentous event, his wife died on October 8, 1776. He had scarce time to mourn before the British army invaded New Jersey and he became a particularly highly valued target. He had to resort to hiding in caves to avoid capture. Eventually the British gave up the chase and he was able to safely return home. He’d lost none of his patriotism, and in 1778, allowed Washington to camp the Continental Army – all 12,000 of them – on his estate for two days while Washington planned new strategies. Perhaps because of the strain all these horrible events and efforts for his country had placed on him, Hart fell ill and died in 1779. Much too early to take a direct part in shaping the new nation.

1. Robert Morris

Merchants were hardly unique among the members of the Continental Congress. This delegate from Pennsylvania took it a bit further than his peers. During the war, Robert Morris managed the financing and equipping of the Continental Army, but stood to profit immensely because he had all supplies go through his company, and thus the new nation was indebted to him in a more monetary sense than most.

On the other, more benevolent hand, during one of the low points of the revolution in 1776, he loaned $10,000 to the Continental Army to allow it to resupply itself in time to attack for the famous Delaware River Crossing and Battle of Trenton. He later provided credit that allowed the victory at the Battle of Yorktown. He even was one of the original architects of the National Bank.

Why He’s Forgotten:

All of his profiteering caught up with him quickly and alienated many, and in 1779 he was under investigation. Even though he was cleared of charges, criticisms from such iconic figures as Thomas Paine blotted his political and financial career. After the war his bullish financial practices would land him in debtor’s prison for three and a half years, dying in poverty.


Your John Hancock

 

– Declaration of Independence Signers

A Franklin for You!

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?
“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Sherman My Boy, let’s head back to take a look at the achievements of Benjamin Franklin.”

 

April 14, 1775: Benjamin Franklin is The Most Interesting Man in the World!

April-14-1775-Benjamin-Franklin-The-Most-Interesting-Man-World

WABAC to…..

On April 14, 1775, Benjamin Franklin along with Benjamin Rush founded the first abolitionist society in the US, The Society For the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Apparently, in those days catchy acronyms were not the style!


Interesting HOW? Spend 40 minutes & find out for yourself……

Ben Franklin was a man of such a variety of talents and involved in so many things we have to call him The Most Interesting Man in the World!

Born in 1706 in Boston, Franklin worked as a young man as a printer.  When only 15 he scored his first of many major firsts, in this case founding the country’s first independent newspaper.  A man of science and letters, Franklin was an accomplished writer and inventor while also being politically and socially active, serving as a political writer (Poor Richard’s Almanac), ambassador to France, and influential member of the Founding Fathers that set up the war for independence and the framing of the constitution.

Outgoing and popular, Franklin was not an ideal family man, but he sure was popular with the ladies!  Famous for one or more illegitimate children, Franklin also gave us the pot-bellied or Franklinstove, bifocal eyeglasses, perfected the lightning rod, founded the first circulating public library, started the first post office, experimented with electricity and served as the first Postmaster General of the US. Franklin even invented a nifty musical instrument called the Glass Armonica!

Franklin also studied ocean currents, the nature of light, the effects of evaporation on cooling, weather patterns, various factors effecting electrical transmission, population growth rates, and he even invented the process by which a decision can be logically arrived at by listing the Pros and Consin two columns.  Aside from the abolitionist society he also founded other societies and created the first public fire department!

Although Franklin did own slaves, he did free them and campaign for the abolition of slavery. He also was an advocate of freedom of religion, although he may well have been an atheist himself.

Ben Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, so in a way you can say he also invented the United States!  All these things listed here are but an incomplete list of Franklin’s accomplishments, and for absolutely fascinating reading we encourage you to look into this amazing man’s life in more detail.

Pictured on our $100 bill (and formerly on the half-dollar coin), Franklin is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, American of all time, and deserving of the title, The Most Interesting Man in the World!

A Franklin for You!