Think those fireworks on the Fourth are just for Independence Day? By coincidence, and sometimes by design, a surprising number of events in US History happened on July 4.  Here are TEN.

July 4, 1802 — The U.S. Military Academy at West Point opens.

July 4, 1803 — President Thomas Jefferson announces the Louisiana Purchase.


July 4, 1826 --  On the fiftieth anniversary of independence, Thomas Jefferson dies in Monticello, VA.  Five hours later, John Adams dies in Braintree, MA.  That same day, songwriter Stephen Foster (“Oh, Susanna,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” etc.) is born.

July 4, 1831 — Another president, James Monroe, kicks.  If you’re keeping track, that makes presidents 2, 3, and 5 dying on the 4th.

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July 4, 1845 — Henry David Thoreau moves to a cabin on Walden Pond, jumpstarting the environmental movement.

July 4, 1855Walt Whitman self-publishes Leaves of Grass.

July 4, 1863 — The turning point in the Civil War — Vicksburg surrenders to General U.S. Grant while Lee’s army retreats from Gettysburg.  Speaking of the event, Lincoln noted, “On the fourth the enemies of the declaration that all men are created equal had to turn tail and run.”

July 4, 1939 — Lou Gehrig, suffering from the disease that would be named after him, tells a sellout Yankee Stadium crowd he is “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

July 4, 1951 — The invention of the transistor is announced.

July 4, 1997 — NASA’s Pathfinder lands on Mars and begins to explore.

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Bruce WatsonComment