Today In History, July 4th


Today is Saturday, July 4, the 186th day of 2020. 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.
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 1910, in what was billed as “The Fight of the Century,” Black world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson defeated white former champ James J. Jeffries in Reno, Nevada.
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 1946, the Philippines became independent of U.S. sovereignty.
In 1976, America celebrated its bicentennial with daylong festivities; President Gerald R. Ford made stops in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Independence Hall in Philadelphia and New York, where more than 200 ships paraded up the Hudson River in Operation Sail.
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 1995, the space shuttle Atlantis and the Russian space station Mir parted after spending five days in orbit docked together.
In 2013, 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.
Ten years ago: Gen. David Petraeus formally assumed command of the 130,000-strong international force in Afghanistan, declaring “we are in this to win.” Interim Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski held off a last-minute election surge from Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the identical twin brother of the late president, Lech Kaczynski, who’d died in an April plane crash. Dr. Robert Butler, 83, a Pulitzer Prize-winning expert on aging who coined the phrase “ageism,” died in New York. Rafael Nadal swept Tomas Berdych in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, to win his second Wimbledon title and eighth Grand Slam championship.
Five years ago: Billy Joel married girlfriend Alexis Roderick in a surprise ceremony at the couple’s annual Fourth of July party; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presided over the nuptials at Joel’s Long Island estate. Diana Douglas, 92, the first wife of Kirk Douglas and mother of Michael Douglas, died in Los Angeles. Matt Stonie shocked the competitive eating world by upsetting Joey “Jaws” Chestnut at the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, thwarting Chestnut’s bid for a ninth straight victory.
One year ago: A helicopter crash in the Bahamas claimed the lives of American coal billionaire Chris Cline, his daughter Kameron and three of her friends, along with the pilot and copilot. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the only Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, said he was leaving the GOP because he had become disenchanted with partisan politics. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large area of Southern California and parts of Nevada, causing injuries and damage in the town of Ridgecrest, near the epicenter. (A stronger quake would follow a day later.)
Today’s Birthdays: Actress Eva Marie Saint is 96. Actress Gina Lollobrigida is 93. Country singer Ray Pillow is 83. Actor Ed Bernard is 81. Actress Karolyn Grimes is 80. Rhythm and blues singer Annette Beard (Martha and the Vandellas) is 77. Broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera is 77. Vietnam War veteran and peace activist Ron Kovic is 74. Rhythm and blues musician Ralph Johnson (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 69. Rock musician Domingo Ortiz (Widespread Panic) is 68. Singer John Waite is 68. Rock musician Kirk Pengilly (INXS) is 62. Country musician Teddy Carr is 60. Rock DJ Zonka is 58. International Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver is 58. Rock musician Matt Malley is 57. Christian rock singer Michael Sweet is 57. Actor-playwright-screenwriter Tracy Letts is 55. Actor Al Madrigal is 49. Actress Jenica Bergere is 46. Actor-singer John Lloyd Young is 45. Singer Stephen “Ste” McNally (BBMak) is 42. Actress Becki Newton is 42. Actor Mo McRae is 38. TV personality Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is 38. Rhythm and blues singer Melanie Fiona is 37. Malia Obama is 22.