On this Day

In 1744, the Six Nations (or Iroquois League) signed the Treaty of Lancaster with the British Colonies of Maryland and Virginia. The treaty ceded a part of the Iroquois land claims located west of the Allegheny Mountains to the Colonies.

In 1776, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania adopted the United States Declaration of Independence. The Declaration famously asserted:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration also included as natural a right to abolish those institutions which impede these ends; such a claim can only entail the assertion as a right of a people to make a revolution against a despotic government.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson publicly announced the Louisiana Purchase of territory west of the United States. The land thus acquired from France doubled the then current size of the country; it includes today 23% of the total land mass of the United States. The Louisiana Purchase was, however, controversial at the time. Some Americans, including Jefferson himself, thought the treaty to be unconstitutional and too expensive, that it made Jefferson a hypocrite (he surely would have opposed the venture had it been a Federalist initiative) and that it intensified sectional jealousies in the United States. Yet subsequent history suggests that the Louisiana Purchase also greatly helped in making the United States a global power which would surpass Great Britain, as Napoleon believed it would.

In 1804, the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorn was born in Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorn is best remembered for his novel The Scarlet Letter.

In 1807, Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nizza (Nice) in what then was the Department of Alpes-Maritimes of the First French Empire and what today is in Italy. Garibaldi is considered to be an Italian patriot and national hero.

In 1826, Thomas Jefferson, the Third President of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, died. His death occurred 50 years after the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

In 1826, John Adams, the Second President of the United States, died at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts. Like Jefferson, Adams died 50 years after the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

In 1831, James Monroe, the Fifth President of the United States, died while living in New York City. Monroe is best remembered as the promulgator of the Monroe Doctrine, a public declaration which warned the powers of Europe that the United States would consider their efforts to colonize parts of the Americas as acts of aggression. It is one of history's many ironies that the Monroe Doctrine was expressed an anti-imperial sentiment while cloaking an imperial intention. The Doctrine effective claimed the Americas as a whole to be the United States' sphere of influence. The Doctrine thus prefigured the development of the United States as a hemispheric and then a global empire.

In 1845, Henry David Thoreau began his experiment in simple living on Walden Pond, an experiment immortalized in his book, Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

In 1855, the poet Walt Whitman published the first edition of his book of poems, Leaves of Grass.

In 1865, the logician and novelist Lewis Carroll published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

In 1881, the Tuskegee Institute opened in Tuskegee, Alabama.

In 1921, the economist, mathematician and Nobel Laureate Gérard Debreu was born in France.

In 1938, Otto Bauer, an Austrian Social Democratic leader and co-creator of Austromarxism, died while living in exile in Paris, France.

In 1938, the singer-songwriter Bill Withers was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia.

In 1946, the Philippines achieved independence, thus ending centuries of overt colonial domination over the islands.

In 1946, the anti-war activist, author and decorated Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. Injured in the War, Kovic wrote the famous memoir Born of the Fourth of July about his experiences.

In 1947, the Indian Independence Bill was presented to Britain's House of Commons. The Bill proposed the cleaving of British India into the sovereign states of India and Pakistan, a proposal which came to completion with Indian and Pakistani independence (August 14, 1947) and widespread ethno-religious violence.

In 1976, Israeli commandos conducted the famous raid on Uganda's Entebbe Airport.

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