There are many dramatic days in the history of our Fourth of July. One American president was born on that day: Calvin Coolidge.
And George Steinbrenner, Geraldo Rivera and Malia Obama are just a few of the many public figures who celebrate their birthdays on July 4th.
It was on this day in 1939 that Lou Gehrig appeared at Yankee Stadium and gave his retirement speech, calling himself "the luckiest man on earth." And on this day in 2004, the cornerstone was laid for the Freedom Tower in New York City, a building that would rise from the ashes of the World Trade Center.
Here, in chronological order, are 10 of the most dramatic July Fourths in American history.
1. 1776: The Second Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence.
2. 1802: U.S. Military Academy opens at West Point.
3. 1826: Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, and John Adams, the second president, both die. American songwriter Stephen Foster is born.
4. 1831: President James Monroe dies. Samuel Francis Smith writes "My Country Tis of Thee" for Fourth of July festivities.
5. 1863: Union soldiers win the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. Both victories are crucial. They are viewed as the turning point of the Civil War.
6. 1876: News of the Battle of the Little Big Horn reaches New York City. It is learned that George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry were massacred by Sitting Bull and the Sioux Indians on June 25. The nation goes into shock as the news from the remote battlefield finally reaches civilization.
7. 1881: President James Garfield hovers between life and death after being shot twice on July 2. He would die in September. His vice president, Chester Arthur, would become president.
8. 1886: The Statue of Liberty is given to the United States by the nation of France.
9. 1946: The United States grants independence to the Philippines. America reaffirms to the world that it is not an empire but respects the independence of nations.
10. 1997: U.S. Pathfinder space probe lands on the planet Mars.
Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush. Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.
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