July 4, 1054 – The brightest known supernova was seen by Chinese, Arab and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months (some sources say 23 days), it remained bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants formed the Crab Nebula.
July 4, 1541 – Spanish general and explorer Pedro de Alvarado died at the age of 55 (possibly 56) from injuries he received a few days before when he was crushed by a horse that was spooked and ran amok in Guadalajara, New Spain. He participated in the conquest of Cuba, in Juan de Grijalva's exploration of the coasts of Yucatán Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the conquest of Mexico led by Hernán Cortés. He is considered the conquistador of much of Central America, including Guatemala and El Salvador.
July 4, 1641 – Portuguese explorer Pedro Teixeira, age unknown, died in the Portuguese Colony of Brazil. In 1637, he became the first European to travel up the entire length of the Amazon River. His exploits are considered remarkable even by today's standards.
July 4, 1712 - Twelve slaves were executed for starting a slave uprising in New York that killed nine whites.
July 4, 1754 – During the French and Indian War, George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity to French Capt. Louis Coulon de Villiers. Washington signed a confession, written in French that he could not read, to the assassination of Ensign Joseph Coulon de Jumonville.
July 4, 1774 – The Orangetown Resolutions were adopted in the Province of New York, one of many protests against the British Parliament's Coercive Acts.
July 4, 1776 - The amended Declaration of Independence, prepared by Thomas Jefferson, was unanimously approved and signed by John Hancock, the President of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pa. The document proclaimed the independence of a new United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually involve France’s intervention on behalf of the Americans.
July 4, 1778 – During the American Revolutionary War, American forces under George Clark captured Kaskaskia during the Illinois campaign.
July 4, 1802 - The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. officially opened.
July 4, 1803 - The Louisiana Purchase was announced in newspapers. The property was purchased, by the United States 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.
July 4, 1804 – During the first-ever Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi River in present-day Kansas, Lewis and Clark fired the Corps of Discovery expedition cannon at sunset and ordered an extra ration of whiskey for the men.
July 4, 1804 - Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote “The Scarlet Letter” in 1850, was born Nathaniel Hathorne in Salem, Mass.
July 4, 1826 – Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, died the same day as John Adams, the second president of the United States, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption and signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. Jefferson died at the age of 83 in Charlottesville, Va., and Adams died at the age of 90 in Quincy, Mass. Both men had been central in the drafting of the historic document; Jefferson had authored it, and Adams, who was known as the “colossus of the debate,” served on the drafting committee and had argued eloquently for the declaration’s passage.
July 4, 1827 – Slavery was abolished in New York State.
July 4, 1831 – James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, died from heart failure and tuberculosis at the age of 73 in New York City.
July 4, 1838 – The Iowa Territory was organized.
July 4, 1845 - American writer Henry David Thoreau began his two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond, near Concord, Mass.
July 4, 1846 – Confederate veteran Thomas Jefferson Austin was born in Butler County, Ala. On Jan. 1, 1864, at the age of 17, he enlisted in Greenville, Ala. as a private in Co. E of the 1st Alabama Artillery Battalion. He was taken as a prisoner of war at Fort Morgan in 1864 and was forwarded to Elmira Prison in New York. He was exchanged on March 14, 1865 at Charles River, Va. and was admitted to Richmond General Hospital No. 9. He was later transferred to Jackson Hospital and then to St. Frances deSales Hospital. He was discharged from the Confederate Army on June 6, 1865 and from the hospital on Aug. 13, 1865. He passed away on Feb. 7, 1908 in Jones Mill, Ala. and is buried in Shiloh Cemetery in present-day Frisco City, Ala.
July 4, 1848 - In Washington, D.C., the cornerstone for the Washington Monument was laid.
July 4, 1855 – In Brooklyn, New York City, the first edition of Walt Whitman's book of poems, “Leaves of Grass,” was published, containing a dozen poems. He revised the book many times, constantly adding and rewriting poems.
July 4, 1858 – During a nationwide scandal with roots in Clarke County, Ala., French Army officer Henri Arnous de Riviere was apprehended at the Hotel Napoleon in Hoboken, N.J. He’d been accused of abducting Miss Emily J. Blount, the daughter of Frederick S. Blount of Gosport, Ala.
July 4, 1859 – The Louisville & Nashville Railroad officially reached Georgiana, Ala.
July 4, 1861 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, in a speech to Congress, stated the war is..."a People's contest... a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men..." He subsequently issued a call for an additional 400,000 troops.
July 4, 1861 - The U.S. Congress authorized a call for 500,000 men.
July 4, 1861 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Farmington, a few miles south of St Louis, Missouri and in the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
July 4, 1861 – During the Civil War, six blockade runners were captured off Galveston, Texas.
July 4, 1862 – Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story that would grow into “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” and its sequels.
July 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, the following were appointed Federal Major Generals: Darius Nash Couch, Philip Kearney, Alexander McDowell McCook, George Webb Morrell, John James Peck, Fitz John Porter, Israel Bush Richardson, John Sedgwick, Henry Warner Slocum and William Farrar Smith.
July 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s first raid into Kentucky began.
July 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, the Federal bombardment of Vicksburg, Mississippi continued as Federal authorities puzzled over how to reduce the fortress on the Mississippi River bluffs.
July 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Port Royal, South Carolina; and at Harrison Landing and at Westover, Virginia.
July 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, Confederates attacked Federal vessels near Velasco, Texas.
July 4, 1862 – During the Civil War, Federals captured the Confederate gunboat, CSS Teaser, on the James River in Virginia as it attempted to launch an observation balloon made of old silk frocks.
July 4, 1863 – During Civil War, the Siege of Vicksburg ended as Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg, Miss. to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Army of the West after 47 days of siege. The Union victory brought control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two. The town of Vicksburg wouldn’t celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years afterwards.
July 4, 1863 - One hundred fifty miles up the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, a Confederate Army was repulsed at the Battle of Helena, Ark. During this battle, which included the U.S. ironclad, Tyler, Federal forces repelled a Confederate attack.
July 4, 1863 – During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia withdrew from the battlefield after losing the Battle of Gettysburg, signalling an end to the Southern invasion of the North. Lee did not threaten Northern territory again.
July 4, 1863 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought at Green River Bridge, sometimes called Tebb’s Bend, Kentucky; at Emmitsburg, Maryland; at Messginger’s Ferry, on the Big Black River, in Mississippi; at Cassville and Black Fork Hills, Missouri; with Indians near Fort Craig in the New Mexico Territory; at Fairfield Gap and Monterey Gap, Pennsylvania; at University Depot, Tennessee; at the South Anna Bridge, on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, north of Richmond, Virginia; and at Fayettesville and Huttonville, West Virginia.
July 4, 1864 – During the Civil War, skirmishes were fought in Searcy County, Arkansas; at Cross Bayou, Louisiana; in Clay County, Missouri; and at Frankford, Patterson’s Creek Bridge, and South Branch Bridge, West Virginia.
July 4, 1864 – During the Civil War, multiple skirmishes were fought at Ruff’s Mill, Neal Dow Station, Campbellton, Mitchell’s Crossroads, Burnt Hickory, Vining Station and Rottenwood Creek in Georgia. Once again Confederate forces withdrew to newly prepared positions. This time they were on the Chattahoochee River. At one point, Federal forces were closer to Atlanta than Confederate.
July 4, 1864 – During the Civil War, a fight occurred at Battery Pringle, located on James Island, South Carolina.
July 4, 1864 – During the Civil War, a Federal expedition began down the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn. to Grand Gulf, Miss. Transportation was provided by the steamers, Rose Hamilton, Madison, J.D. Perry, JC Snow, Silver Wave, Sunny South, Tycoon and the Shenandoah. Skirmishes occurred at Bolivar, Utica, Port Gibson and Grand Gulf, Mississippi.
July 4, 1865 – “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” was published.
July 4, 1872 - Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States was born in Plymouth, Vermont.
July 4, 1881 - Booker T. Washington established Tuskegee Institute.
July 4, 1884 – The Daily British Colonist reported that “(Jacko) has long, black, strong hair and resembles a human being (with the exception that)… his entire body, excepting his hands… and feet are covered with glossy hair about one inch long. His forearm is much longer than a man’s forearm, and he possesses extraordinary strength.” A group of railroad men supposedly captured this half-man, half-beast creature in the vicinity of No. 4 Tunnel, about 20 miles from Yale, British Columbia.
July 4, 1895 - The sheriff of Brewton, E.S. McMillan trapped Morris Slater, aka “Railroad Bill,” in a house near Bluff Springs. Approaching the house, McMillan was shot and killed and Slater once again escaped.
July 4, 1903 – The Philippine–American War officially ended.
July 4, 1911 – The Conecuh Record reported that the dam at Tomlinson’s old mill washed away on this day.
July 4, 1912 – The Johnson-Flynn boxing match was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
July 4, 1913 – President Woodrow Wilson addressed American Civil War veterans at the Great Reunion of 1913 in Gettysburg, Pa.
July 4, 1914 – Thomas Reid, who was about 21 years old, drowned in El Pond. He lived about five miles from Castleberry in Escambia County, Ala.
July 4, 1914 – At a large Fourth of July event hosted by the Vredenburg saw mill company, which was attended by over 1,000 people, the Vredenburg baseball team played a double header against the “star Bellville team.” Vredenburgh won the morning game, 5-4, but Bellville won the evening game, 10-8.
July 4, 1916 - There was to be a fish fry and picnic at Ell Pond on this Fourth of July. This entertainment was for the public and everybody was cordially invited. Those who can do so, were expected to bring baskets. There was to be plenty of ice water, ice cream, lemonade and other soft drinks on the ground. “Those who want beer, whiskey or any other kind of intoxicating beverages are urgently requested to go somewhere else and not come to Ell Pond,” according to The Conecuh Record.
July 4, 1917 - U.S. troops made their first public display of World War I, marching through the streets of Paris to the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and hero of the American Revolutionary War. Immense public enthusiasm greeted this first public display of American troops: a symbolic march through Paris, ending at the grave of Lafayette, who had commanded revolutionary troops against the British empire and who, by his own request, had been buried in soil brought from America. To the cheers of Parisian onlookers in front of the tomb, the American officer Colonel Charles Stanton famously declared “Lafayette, we are here!
July 4, 1921 – A few weeks after his mother’s death, H.P. Lovecraft attended an amateur journalism convention in Boston. It was here that he first met Sonia Haft Greene, a Russian Jew seven years his senior, who would eventually become his wife.
July 4, 1922 – Greenville, Ala. celebrated its centennial.
July 4, 1927 – Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon was born Marvin Neil Simon in New York City.
July 4, 1929 – Pro Football Hall of Fame player, coach and manager Al Davis was born in Brockton, Mass. Best known for his time as the principal owner of the Oakland Raiders, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
July 4, 1930 - George Michael Steinbrenner III, who would go on to own the New York Yankees, was born in Bay Village, Ohio, near Cleveland.
July 4, 1931 – James Joyce and Nora Barnacle were wed at the Kensington Registry Office, after living together for 26 years.
July 4, 1934 – Evergreen’s baseball team played the American Legion team. Herbert English of Range pitched for the American Legion team and impressed Evergreen manager Tom Melton so much that Melton acquired English services for Evergreen later in July. English was to begin playing for Evergreen on July 22.
July 4, 1934 - Boxer Joe Louis, a native of Alabama, won his first professional fight.
July 4, 1934 - At Mount Rushmore, George Washington's face was dedicated.
July 4, 1939 – Lou Gehrig, who’d been recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, informed a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself "The luckiest man on the face of the earth," then announced his retirement from Major League Baseball.
July 4, 1941 – Nazi troops massacred Polish scientists and writers in the captured Ukrainian city of Lviv.
July 4, 1942 – Pro Football Hall of Fame halfback Floyd Little was born in New Haven, Conn. During his career, he played for Syracuse and the Denver Broncos. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
July 4, 1945 – Monroeville, Ala. resident Sgt. Charles F. Glidewell Jr., with the 1105th Combat Engineer Co., commanded the honor guard that raised the American flag over the rubble of Berlin during a special ceremony as Gen. Omar Bradley looked on.
July 4, 1960 – Due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on Aug. 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuted in Philadelphia, almost ten and a half months later.
July 4, 1963 - Gen. Tran Van Don informed Lucien Conein of the CIA that certain officers were planning a coup against South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem, who had been supported by the Kennedy administration, had refused to make any meaningful reforms and had oppressed the Buddhist majority. Conein informed Washington that the generals were plotting to overturn the government. President John F. Kennedy, who had come to the conclusion that the Diem government should no longer be in command, sent word that the United States would not interfere with the coup.
July 4, 1965 – Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist and actor Tracy Letts was born in Tulsa, Okla.
July 4, 1966 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into United States law. The act went into effect the next year.
July 4, 1968 - At a formal ceremony inaugurating the formation of a new multiparty pro-government political group, the People’s Alliance for Social Revolution, South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu praised the organization as a “major step toward grassroots political activity.”
July 4, 1969 – Joe Brown successfully defended his championship in the Evergreen Golf Club’s annual club tournament, which was limited to members. Brown had to get by two extra hole matches with Brown Boykin and Henry Kinzer to enter the finals where he defeated Bill Kitchens.
July 4, 1976 - The United States celebrated its Bicentennial.
July 4, 1980 - Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros got his 3,000th career strikeout.
July 4, 1987 – In France, former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie (a.k.a. the "Butcher of Lyon") was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment.
July 4, 1993 - The Pizza Hut Blimp became deflated in flight, but landed safely on West 56th Street in New York City.
July 4, 2004 - In New York, the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center) was laid on the former World Trade Center site.
July 4, 2005 - Following hearings before a judge, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe were released, but Jordan van der Sloot was detained for an additional 60 days in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, 18, of Mountain Brook, Ala.
July 4, 2005 - The Royal Netherlands Air Force deployed three F-16 aircraft equipped with infrared sensors to aid in the search for the missing Natalee Holloway, 18, of Mountain Brook, Ala. without initial result.
July 4, 2005 – Pro Football Hall of Fame back and coach Hank Stram died at the age of 82 in Covington, La. During his career, he played at Purdue and served as head coach of the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.
July 4, 2006 – Will Clark was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in its inaugural class.
July 4, 2007 - Alabama journalist Harold Eugene Martin died in Bedford, Texas.