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Here you’ll find interesting bits of history from all periods and countries that occurred on a particular day.

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July 23rd 1885: Ulysses S. Grant dies

On this day in 1885, former Civil War general and 18th President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant died. He became a national icon after he led the Union to victory over Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces in the Civil War and secured Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in 1865. He became President in 1869, and enforced Reconstruction and civil rights laws. However, his presidency was marred by stories of his alcoholism and corruption in his administration. He left the office in 1877, and launched an unsuccessful bid for a third term in 1880. In 1885 he died of throat cancer at the age of 63 and his body lay in state.

"I hope that nobody will be distressed on my account."
- Grant’s last words

2 hours ago
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July 16th 1999: John F. Kennedy Jr. dies

On this day in 1999 John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette died in a plane crash. JFK Jr., the son of the late President, was flying the aircraft when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The crash was supposedly due to pilot error. They were reported missing on July 16th and their bodies were found on the ocean floor on July 21st. The tragic death of the assassinated President’s son at age 38, who captured the heart of the nation when he saluted his father’s coffin, fueled the idea of a ‘Kennedy curse’ on the family.

"We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side.But, like his father, he had every gift but length of years”
- John’s uncle Senator Edward Kennedy at his memorial service

1 week ago
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July 13th 1985: Live Aid

On this day in 1985, the Live Aid benefit concerts took place at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organised the concerts to raise money to provide aid for victims of the famine in Ethiopia. Notable artists such as Queen, Phil Collins, David Bowie, U2, The Who, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney performed. The London concert drew 72,000 and the Philadelphia concert was attended by 100,000. The global audience watching the live broadcast is estimated to have been at around 1.9 billion. The event was a great success, ultimately raising around £150m.

1 week ago
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July 10th 1925: Scopes Monkey Trial begins

On this day in 1925 the trial of John Scopes, who stood accused of teaching evolution and thus violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, began. The trial drew the attention of the nation, as to many it seemed as if Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution itself was on trial, especially its compatibility with religion (namely Christian Creationism). The most famous lawyers of the day argued the case, with former Democratic nominee for President William Jennings Bryan prosecuting and Clarence Darrow defending. Scopes was ultimately found guilty of teaching evolution, but was let free on a technicality. The trial was one of the most dramatic and famous in history and has since become synonymous with religious backlash against scientific progress.

1 week ago
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July 4th 1776: American independence

On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved and adopted by the Continental Congress. Thus, independence of the United States from the United Kingdom was secured. The Declaration was written mainly by Thomas Jefferson and it explained how Britain’s actions had led to American desire for independence. Congress had voted on July 2nd to declare independence but approved the wording of the official Declaration on July 4th, thus this day is celebrated as Independence Day. The date of its signing by the 56 delegates to Congress has been disputed, but it is generally held to be on August 2nd.

"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.”

2 weeks ago
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July 2nd 1964: Civil Rights Act signed

On this day in 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which outlawed school segregation, had sparked a new and more direct phase of the struggle for racial equality in the United States. The Civil Rights Movement that followed involved defiance of discrimination in the United States, especially Jim Crow segregation in the South and restriction of black voting rights. The movement initially had little support from the federal government, who instead focused mainly on foreign Cold War policy. It was in 1963 that the violent resistance encountered by peaceful black protestors, including children, by whites in Birmingham, Alabama, led President John F. Kennedy to call for a civil rights bill. After his assassination Kennedy’s successor Johnson, who was a vocal supporter of civil rights, took charge of the fight for the bill. Facing opposition from conservative Democrats and Republicans, Johnson utilised his personal forceful nature (known as ‘The Johnson Treatment’), the power of the executive to provide incentives for congressional support, and the legacy of Kennedy to push the bill through Congress. The Civil Rights Act passed the House in February 1964 and the Senate in June, before it was signed into law in July by Johnson. Those present at the signing ceremony on July 2nd included prominent African-American leaders of the Civil Rights Movement such as Martin Luther King Jr. The Act focused on racial discrimination, banning segregation and unequal voter requirements. However it also included a prohibition on sex-based discrimination which fuelled the burgeoning feminist movement; though some claim it was added by a Virginia Democrat in an attempt to derail the passage of the act. The Civil Rights Act, along with the Voting Rights Act a year later, were the primary legislative achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, and remain the cornerstone of American civil rights legislation. 50 years on, it is a time for reflection on how far America has come since the days of Jim Crow segregation and black disenfranchisement, but also how much further is still left to go in the struggle for racial equality.

50 years ago today

3 weeks ago
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June 27th 1844: Joseph Smith murdered

On this day in 1844, the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith Jr and his brother Hyrum were killed by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois. They were attacked at the prison where they was held on charges of conspiracy and treason. Smith claimed to have had visions telling of Golden Plates which contained the true gospel, which he translated and published as the Book of Mormon in 1830. Many feared his power and criticised his practice of polygamy. Tensions came to a head when, in 1844, a mob repeatedly shot Smith at the prison, and he died when he fell from his window. The Church of the Latter Day Saints consequently saw the brothers as martyrs.

"Oh Lord, my God!"
- Joseph Smith’s last words

3 weeks ago
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June 25th 1876: Custer’s Last Stand

On this day in 1876 Colonel George Custer made his famous ‘last stand’ against Native American forces at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where he and a vast proportion of his men were killed. The battle came as part of the Great Sioux War of 1876 and saw United States troops fighting the combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho people whose leaders included Crazy Horse and Chief Gall. The exact nature of Custer’s death during the ensuing battle is uncertain and subject to historical debate. The catastrophe of the ‘last stand’ came as a surprise to many American officials, as Custer had an exemplary record as a West Point educated military leader who served the Union Army in the Civil War, and they had underestimated the Native Americans’ skill in warfare.

4 weeks ago
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July 18th 1969: Chappaquiddick incident

On this day in 1969, after a party on Chappaquiddick island, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) drove his car off a bridge, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy, brother of late President John F. Kennedy, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene and admitted he failed to report the incident to the authorities until fishermen found the car and Kopechne’s body. He denied that he was under the influence of alcohol, but whilst negligent driving was considered the cause of Kopechne’s death Kennedy was not prosecuted. Chappaquiddick continued to haunt Kennedy’s political career, and weakened his hopes of a run for the office of President of the United States. Some have taken the incident as another indication of a ‘Kennedy curse’.

4 days ago
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July 15th 1979: Carter’s ‘Crisis of Confidence’ speech

On this day in 1979, the US President Jimmy Carter made a televised address that has become known as the ‘crisis of confidence’ or ‘malaise’ speech. The address came during an energy crisis which had its roots in the 1973 oil embargo, which led Carter to conclude that America needed a focus on conserving energy and the use of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Carter also encouraged people to be more responsible in their use of gas and electric. It was in this environment that the President made his July 15th speech, which he had spent many weeks preparing at Camp David. He identified a ‘crisis of confidence’ throughout the nation in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. The reception to the speech was initially favourable, but came to be seen as a scolding lecture where Carter was blaming the American people for the crisis in his emphasis on over consumption and consumerism. The address has since become identified with the general period of ‘malaise’ that characterised America in the 1970s, with a flagging economy, uninspiring politicians, heightened racial tensions and seemingly endless war; however Carter never actually used the word in his speech. Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid the year after this speech in 1980 against charismatic Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.

1 week ago
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July 11th 1960: To Kill a Mockingbird published

On this day in 1960, the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee was published by J.B Lippincott & Co. The novel tells the story of the trial of a young African-American man in Alabama in the 1930s, and is told from the perspective of the daughter of the defendant’s lawyer, Scout Finch. Lee was partly inspired by events she recalled from her own childhood growing up in Alabama in the days of Jim Crow segregation. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was released during a turbulent time for American race relations, as the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement was beginning to get underway with sit-ins and Freedom Rides in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The novel was originally going to be called ‘Atticus’ for Scout’s father and the moral centre of the story, but was renamed for one of Atticus’s iconic lines. The novel was an immediate success, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 1962 it was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck and featuring the film debut of Robert Duvall as the elusive Boo Radley. Harper Lee never published another novel and remains reclusive from the press, though she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. The influence of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has never faded in the 54 years since its release, and is a favourite of many for its warmth and humour while tackling some of the most troubling issues of its day.

"Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird"

1 week ago
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July 8th 1839: John D. Rockefeller born

On this day in 1839 the American industrialist John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York. Even in his youth, Rockefeller displayed an aptitude for numbers and an entrepreneurial spirit, as he began selling food and other items to his neighbours. Rockefeller went on to establish the Standard Oil Company and became the richest man in the world, perhaps even the richest in history. Rockefeller used much of his wealth for philanthropy, creating many foundations which researched medicine, science and education and founding universities. He is often held as a notable success story of the capitalistic American Dream as Rockefeller rose from humble beginnings to become the first American to own a fortune of over one billion dollars. Rockefeller died in 1937 aged 97. His success established the Rockefeller family as one of the wealthiest and most influential in America, perhaps best known for their control of Chase Manhattan Bank. Even after his death his legacy continued in his relatives and descendants and his name became imbedded in American culture with the building of Rockefeller Centre in New York City in the 1930s.

2 weeks ago
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July 3rd 1863: Battle of Gettysburg ends

On this day in 1863 during the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg ended. The battle was a key turning point in the war with its decisive Union victory under George Meade which turned the tide in the Union’s favour. The Confederacy, whose forces were led by Robert E. Lee, were defeated and thus Lee’s invasion of the North was ended. The last day of the battle also saw Pickett’s Charge, a Confederate cavalry charge which was repulsed by Union fire and thus led to many Confederate deaths. The battle was the bloodiest of the war, and President Lincoln famously honoured the fallen with his Gettysburg Address.

2 weeks ago
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June 29th 2007: Original iPhone launched

On this day in 2007 the American company Apple Inc. released their first mobile phone: the iPhone. Apple was founded in 1976 and enjoyed some initial success with the 1984 release of the Macintosh computer. However they achieved major recognition with the development of the iPod music player in 2001 and the iPhone after 2007; Apple are now considered a global giant in the electronics business. After years of work, the iPhone was officially unveiled on January 9th 2007 by the late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs. Upon its commercial release in the United States in June, it was an instant success, eventually expanding sales across the world. The iPhone is now in its fifth incarnation (but seventh generation), with vastly improved technology and efficiency than the original model. It is now one of the world’s most popular mobile phones, selling millions of devices every year.

"This is only the beginning"
- slogan upon the release of the original iPhone 7 years ago today

3 weeks ago
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June 26th 1963: JFK’s Berlin speech

On this day in 1963, at the height of the Cold War, US President John F. Kennedy addressed hundreds of thousands of people in West Berlin. He expressed US support of West Berlin following the building of the Berlin Wall by the Soviet-controlled East Germany. His appearance was greatly welcomed and gave the people of West Berlin a morale boost. Kennedy’s powerful rhetoric and delivery led many to call it one of his best speeches.

"All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!’”

3 weeks ago
254 notes