ON THE FOURTH OF JULY...
1776 - Americans celebrate their independence from Britan. July 4th remembers the approval of writing the "Declaration of Independence" in 1776. The actual signing of the document did not occur until a month later. Most of the delegates signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776, the first signature being that of John Hancock. Several signatures were obtained later: George Wythe (Virginia) on August 27; Richard Henry Lee (Virginia), Elbridge Gerry (Massachusetts), Oliver Wolcott (Connecticut) signed in September; Matthew Thornton (New Hampshire) in November. Thomas McKean, representing Delaware, was serving in the army and was unavailable to add his 'John Hancock' until 1781.
1832 - At Boston's Park Street Church, the song, "America," was publicly sung for the first time. The words were written by Dr. Samuel Francis Smith who borrowed the tune from a German songbook. Unknown to Dr. Smith, the melody was the same as the British national anthem.
1845 - Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau went to live in a shack adjacent to Walden Pond, Massachusetts. During his two-year stay he kept a journal of his thoughts and encounters with nature. His journal became the basis for "Walden," one of the most important treasures of US literature. Walden Pond later became a state reservation.
1855 - The first edition of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" was published in Brooklyn, New York.
1881 - Tuskegee Institute opened its doors to students who had built it with bricks made in their own kilns. An abandoned plantation in Tuskegee, Alabama was chosen as the site for the institution for academic and vocational training desired by Booker T. Washington.
1895 - The famous song, sometimes heralded as the true United States national anthem, "America the Beautiful," was originally a poem written by Katherine Lee Bates. A professor at Wellesley College, Bates' poem was first published today in the "Congregationalist," a church newspaper.
1996 - My roommate, friends and I tossed a flaming toilet off the 9th floor roof of our apartment building in Morgantown West Virginia. The act was, unfotunately, not taken for the tribute to our great nation that it was meant to be, even though the toilet WAS painted red, white and blue.