Though it is best known as the independence day of the United States, there is a lot more about the 4th of July. From a historical perspective, it refers to the day when the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Although the vote was held on July 2nd, 1776 it took two days to 13 colonies to adopt the document. Apart from getting independence from Great Britain, there is much more about this historical day.
Events took place on July 4th
July 4th is a federal holiday for the people of the states since 1941 and has become a significant event of the summer, with fireworks, cookouts, and celebrations marking the event. Learn what else happened on the 4th of July.
1584: Amadas and Barlowe Expedition reached mainland America
Long before the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, two other English vessels made their way to what is now the United States. The Amadas and Barlowe Expedition—commanded by Captain Philip Amadas and Master Arthur Barlowe—was the first English journey to Roanoke Island. The ships left England on April 27, 1584, and landed in the New World on July 4th of the same year, settling near present-day Ocracoke Island in North Carolina.
1770: Wolfgang Mozart received a papal knighthood
Six years ere American announced its sovereignty; Wolfgang Mozart won the high honor of being awarded a papal knighthood. A letter presenting the knighthood admires Mozart for having shone in “suavissimo cymbali sonitu“—meaning truly “the sweetest sound of cymbals”—since his early in his childhood.
1826 and 1831: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe died
Most of the people of the states would be familiar that Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe were all “Founding Fathers” of the United States, and each ultimately became president. But did you know that they all died on July 4th? Both Jefferson and Adams passed away on July 4, 1827, while Monroe held on for four more years, dying on July 4, 1831.
1827: New York City abolishes slavery
For oppressed people in New York City, July 4, 1827, was a distinct sort of independence day, marking the day that the city ended slavery. The first recorded Black individual to live in New York City came in 1613 and was the only non-native person of color in Manhattan until 1621.
1838: The Huskar Pit Disaster
In Silkstone England, a mining pit flooded on July 4, 1838, causing the death of 26 children by drowning. The report recorded after the accident made note of the unsatisfactory working conditions children faced in mines. The youngest victim was seven-year-old James Burkinshaw, and the oldest was 17-year-old Hannah Taylor.
1946: The Philippines gained independence
Yep, you are reading it right. The Philippines also won its independence on the 4th of July, and it also includes the United States. But it’s a little complicated. The Philippines used to be Spanish colonies between the 16th and 19th centuries but tried to get out of that in 1896, in what’s known as the Philippine Revolution, or Tagalong War. Later, the Philippines remained under the command of the US but at last, won it’s independence again on July 4th i946. President Diosdado Macapagal changed the independence date to June 12 to mark the birthday of the country’s independence from Spain.
1950: Harry Truman signed Public Law 600
Following World War II, many communities and colonies started asking independence, including Puerto Rico. The United States officially took control of Puerto Rico in 1898. The United States wasn’t ready to give it independence, so on July 4, 1950, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 600, which named Puerto Rico a “commonwealth,” implying that it wasn’t sovereign, nor was it an official state of the union. The main reforms were that Puerto Rico could choose their own governor, formulate their own constitution, employ in free trade with the United States, and have a non-voting delegate in Congress.
1994: Rwandan genocide ends
For people in Rwanda, the 4th of July is remembered as Liberation Day, not Independence Day. This is because it signifies the day that the revolutionary army moved into Kigali, and stopped the genocide against the country’s Tutsi minority population; more than 800,000 deaths transpired over the course of three months.
1997: Pathfinder lands on Mars
NASA launched Pathfinder on December 4, 1996, and precisely seven months later (July 4, 1997) it docked on Mars. According to NASA, Pathfinder “was designed as a technology demonstration of a new way to deliver an instrumented lander and the first-ever robotic rover to the surface of the red planet.” Not only did it do this, but it also provided an unusual amount of knowledge, going above and beyond its primary space mission.