history lesson: what else has happened on the fourth of july?

Source: glo.msn.com via Kelly on Pinterest


I love the Fourth of July. It’s pretty much everything that’s awesome in life: beautiful summer weather, family picnics full of laughter and good food, swimming all day long, honoring the military, celebrating with parades and fireworks, watching holiday-appropriate movies, etc. At least, that’s how I have always spent my Fourth of July. Being the history nerd I am, I also love to imagine what that day was like in 1776. It got me thinking – what other major events in U.S. history have occurred on July 4th? Do any other countries share our Independence Day? Here’s what I found:


  • 1802: U.S. Military Academy officially opens (West Point)
  • 1803: The Louisiana Purchase is made public
  • 1826: Former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die
  • 1827: Slavery is abolished in New York
  • 1831: Former President James Monroe dies; “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” is first sung in Boston
  • 1845: Texas Congress votes for annexation to the U.S.
  • 1861: During a special session of Congress, President Abraham Lincoln requests 400,000 troops
  • 1861: John Brown leads an attempted raid on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia
  • 1863: Confederates withdraw from Gettysburg and surrender Vicksburg
  • 1884: The Statue of Liberty is presented to the U.S. in Paris
  • 1892: Western Samoa changes the International Date Line, causing there to be 367 days in the year 1892 for the U.S., including two Monday, July 4ths
  • 1895: Katherine Lee Bates publishes the song “America the Beautiful”
  • 1906: Ethiopia is granted independence from Great Britain, France, and Italy
  • 1913: President Woodrow Wilson speaks to American Civil War veterans (Union and Confederate) at the Great Reunion of 1913
  • 1946: The Philippines is granted independence from U.S.
  • 1950: President Harry S. Truman signs Public Law 600 (which authorizes Puerto Rico to draft its own constitution)
  • 1956: Independence National Historical Park is created in Philadelphia
  • 1959: A 49th star is added to the U.S. flag to represent the state of Alaska
  • 1960: A 50th star is added to the U.S. flag to represent the state of Hawaii
  • 1966: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act
  • 2004: The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower is laid (NYC)
  • 2009: The Statue of the Liberty’s crown reopens to the public after being closed for eight years
I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday! : )

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


history lesson: veterans’ day

Source: google.com via Stefanie on Pinterest

I love that Veterans’ Day in the U.S. is on November 11th for a couple reasons: (1) it makes November even more full of conscious reflections of gratitude and (2) it marks the anniversary of the end of WWI (also known as Armistice Day). I know there’s a lot of buzz about making a wish at 11:11 on 11/11/11, which I do think is pretty neat and fun, but whenever I hear “11:11 on 11/11,” I can’t help but think of how WWI formally ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. I challenge you at that moment, in addition to any personal wish you may be making, to also pause and think of veterans you know or veterans in general. If not at that moment, sometime throughout today. Veterans I know are in my thoughts and prayers more than usual today – my cousin and her husband, another dear cousin of mine, my best friend’s sister, the man who was the best man to my maid of honor in a wedding, the man who spoke to my government students last spring, the man who spoke to one of my history classes in college, a man who grew up in Boy Scouts with my brother, two former math teachers, my grandfathers, my great-uncles, and so many others I have interacted with or heard about throughout my lifetime. To all the veterans, I thank you for all you do, have done, and will do for America and its people. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you have a beautiful day today, and every day.

history lesson: memorial day

Lake Erie, 2009
Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a great three-day weekend. So far I am! I spent time with Dan and his family, my family, and today I’m going to the beach with two of my very best friends. Right now, however, I’m going to indulge myself in a social studies teacher moment.
A lot of people don’t understand the difference between Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day. Quite simply, Veterans’ Day is meant to honor those who served/serve in the military, while Memorial Day began to honor those who died in the line of duty. Memorial Day still serves that purpose today, but has also become a time of year that many family and friends take to honor their deceased loved ones.
So while you are relaxing on this day off, take a moment to remember why it was declared a federal holiday in the first place. If you are able to, try to share with a child what this day means. It is never to early to learn “gone, but never forgotten.”

history lesson: dr. martin luther king, jr.

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was okay, busy with family visiting and planning for student teaching. I was super excited to hear all the results of the Golden Globes – totally pumped about Glee’s wins and The Social Network getting Best Drama!
I’m a huge fan of three-day weekends. I’m also a huge fan of history, and as a future social studies teacher, I would be remiss if I didn’t take some time today to reflect on the life of the man this day is honoring – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Today is the 25th anniversary of this federal holiday!)
I’ve always thought MLK was an amazing man. In History Club in high school (yes, I was in History Club…or may have co-founded it…), I nominated him for the most influential American who was never president. I would still argue that claim today. He was an extraordinary man who did extraordinary things. Yes, there are some allegations regarding MLK’s personal life that are disappointing/negative in nature, but I don’t feel they should deter people from recognizing and honoring MLK for his astounding and important legacy.
At my college, the office of service learning organizes the MLK Day of Service every year. The motto is usually something like, “Make it a day on instead of a day off.” I think it’s a wonderful example of how MLK inspires people to take initiative and make a difference in their communities.
I’m going to wrap up with a favorite MLK quote: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope you have a great day today : )