15 other things that happened on July 4

Everyone in the United States is familiar with the date of July 4. It’s our Independence Day. The day the Second Continental Congress first adopted its Declaration of Independence (though the document wouldn’t be fully signed until later that same summer).

But July 4 is a day like any other, and therefore is the anniversary of tons of other things as well. Check it out!

362 BC - Battle of Mantinea

Theban occupiers battle soldiers from Sparta, Athens, and other city-states. Both sides claimed victory, but Epaminondas, Thebes's most capable leader, was killed.

1744 - Treaty of Lancaster is signed

The Treaty of Lancaster was signed as an agreement between the British and the Iroquois federation, in which Iroquois land was given to the colonies in exchange for what they considered a good deal of gifts and authority over decisions and the speaking rights of their peoples. Unfortunately the original charter indicated a much larger amount of land than the Iroquois thought, so it was a pretty crap deal. 

Read this speech by Cayuga chief Gachadow at the signing of the treaty.

1803 - The Louisiana Purchase is publicly announced

The Louisiana Purchase, which more than doubled the size of the United States, was a deal made between the United States and France.

black and white photo of painting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin
Adams and Jefferson weren't the best of friends but had worked together (along with Benjamin Franklin) on many documents for their new country, including the Declaration.

1826 - Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die hours apart

Legend has it that on his deathbed, Jefferson claimed “Adams lives” and Adams claimed the reverse.

1855 - Leaves of Grass first published

And it has been studied by academics and dilettantes alike ever since.

Leaves of Grass

1881 - The Tuskegee Institute opens

While not the first institution of higher and continuing education for black people in the United States, it was the most well known and has been one of the most renowned HBCUs throughout its existence. Founded by Booker T. Washington as a vocational school, the Tuskegee Institute started out with fewer than fifty students. It is now Tuskegee University. 

1883 - Rube Goldberg is born

A cartoonist by trade, Rube Goldberg is most known for the machines that bear his name. Designed with a specific task in mind, these machines are complex and complicated, and continue to be explored, designed and built. Think you’ve got what it takes? There are contests all over the world for people’s machines

1903 - Dorothy Levitt announced as first woman racecar driver

She lived in Britain and was considered a “scorcher” — someone who loves to go far beyond the speed limit and often draws the attention of law enforcement.

Photograph of Dorothy Levitt in a car1910 - Jack Johnson beats Jim Jeffries (“the Great White Hope”)

Boxer Jack Johnson became the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1908. In the world of Jim Crow, people in boxing and the rest of the world were determined to take it back from him, to the point of pushing Jim Jeffries to come out of retirement to fight him for the prize.

It didn’t work, obviously. But Johnson was blacklisted later in his life after several instances of discrimination led to the loss of the prize and his integrity.

Unforgivable Blackness

1934 - Marie Curie dies

The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize, Marie Curie is known for having discovered several elements and basically bringing us into the age of modern science.

1939 - Lou Gehrig announces his retirement

One of the best baseball players of his era, Lou Gehrig is most well known for having ALS, a crippling muscular disorder that took him out of the game forever. His farewell speech is one of the best-known in baseball.

1947 - Indian Independence Bill presented before Parliament

Before 1947, India was part of the British Empire. It was a colony and then a commonwealth, ruled by the Queen and by Parliament.

A History of British India

1966 - Freedom of Information Act signed into law

Did you know the Act was Cold War related? I thought it was much newer!

1974 - Georgette Heyer dies

Considered the originator of Regency romance, we have Heyer to thank for the copious amounts of Dukes and balls we currently have access to.

The Grand Sophy

1997 - Pathfinder lands on Mars

And it remained in the news for quite some time afterward.


Want to know more about July 4? Start clicking around on Wikipedia!