Today in History

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Today is Wednesday, July 4, the 185th day of 2018. There are 180 days left in the year. This is Independence Day.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Email newsletter signup

On this date:

In 1802, the United States Military Academy officially opened at West Point, New York.

In 1817, ground was broken for the Erie Canal in Rome, New York. The middle section of the waterway took three years to complete; the entire canal was finished in 1825.

In 1826, 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died.

In 1831, the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, died in New York City at age 73.

In 1872, the 30th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, was born in Plymouth, Vermont.

In 1917, during a ceremony in Paris honoring the French hero of the American Revolution, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles E. Stanton, an aide to Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, declared: “Lafayette, we are here!”

In 1939, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees delivered his famous farewell speech in which he called himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

In 1942, Irving Berlin’s musical revue “This Is the Army” opened at the Broadway Theater in New York.

In 1947, the small central California town of Hollister was overrun by thousands of motorcycling enthusiasts, dozens of whom ended up being arrested, most for drunkenness, in what came to be called the “Hollister Riot.”

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act, which went into effect the following year.

In 1987, Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the “Butcher of Lyon (lee-OHN’),” was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison (he died in September 1991).

In 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars, inaugurating a new era in the search for life on the red planet. CBS newsman Charles Kuralt died in New York at age 62.

Ten years ago: Former Sen. Jesse Helms, an unyielding champion of the conservative movement who’d spent three combative and sometimes caustic decades in Congress, died in Raleigh, North Carolina, at age 86. Dara Torres completed her improbable Olympic comeback at age 41, making the U.S. team for the fifth time by winning the 100 freestyle at the trials in Omaha, Neb. Actress Evelyn Keyes died in Montecito, California, at age 91.

Five years ago: Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, was sworn in following the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist leader overthrown by the military after just one year in office. The Statue of Liberty reopened on the Fourth of July, eight months after Superstorm Sandy shuttered the national symbol of freedom. Bernadette Nolan, 52, a member of the singing sister act the Nolans who had a worldwide hit in 1979 with “I’m In The Mood For Dancing,” died in Surrey, England.

One year ago: The United States confirmed that North Korea had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, as the North had boasted and the U.S. and South Korea had feared. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called it a “new escalation of the threat” to the U.S. Joey Chestnut gulped down 72 dogs and buns in 10 minutes to beat his own record and hoist the Mustard Belt for a 10th time at the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Eva Marie Saint is 94. Actress Gina Lollobrigida is 91. Playwright Neil Simon is 91. Country singer Ray Pillow is 81. Singer Bill Withers is 80. Actor Ed Bernard is 79. Actress Karolyn Grimes is 78. Rhythm and blues singer Annette Beard (Martha and the Vandellas) is 75. Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera is 75. Vietnam War veteran and peace activist Ron Kovic is 72. Rhythm and blues musician Ralph Johnson (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 67. Rock musician Domingo Ortiz (Widespread Panic) is 66. Singer John Waite is 66. Rock musician Kirk Pengilly (INXS) is 60. Country musician Teddy Carr is 58. Rock DJ Zonka is 56. International Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver is 56. Rock musician Matt Malley is 55. Christian rock singer Michael Sweet is 55. Actor-playwright-screenwriter Tracy Letts is 53. Actor Al Madrigal is 47. Actress Jenica Bergere is 44. Actor-singer John Lloyd Young is 43. Singer Stephen “Ste” McNally (BBMak) is 40. Actress Becki Newton is 40. Actor Mo McRae is 36. TV personality Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is 36. Rhythm and blues singer Melanie Fiona is 35. Malia Obama is 20.