Like millions of U.S. citizens, I enjoyed the Fourth of July by happily doing yard work, sprucing up the place to celebrate the day in 1187 when the forces of Salah ad Din defeated the Crusaders of Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem. Joke! I hate yard work.
As all of us who passed our (revocable) citizenship tests know, in 1776, our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, excoriating King George III for “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither … obstruct(ing) the Administration of Justice … ma[king] Judges dependent on his Will alone … cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world … transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences,” and “endeavor(ing) to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.”
Thank God that’s over.
And speaking of merciless savages, on July 4, 1584, the first English settlers arrived at Roanoke Island, where they were greeted with generosity and kindness by the people of Secotan village, people “gentle, loving and faithful, void of all guile and treason, and such as live after the manner of the Golden Age,” if you can believe Arthur Barlowe, who was there. Roanoke became known as the Lost Colony, because all the Anglo settlers “disappeared,” after inflicting god knows what upon the gentle, loving and faithful savages.
Moving right along, on July 4, 1802, we opened the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
On July 4, 1827, New York State abolished slavery.
On July 4, 1845, Henry Thoreau moved to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts for a bogus, yet productive experiment on “going back to the land.” Thoreau had a laundrywoman take care of him on the pond, frequently walked to town for dinner, and … Never mind.
On July 4, 1863, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia retreated after losing the Battle of Gettysburg. Also that day, Vicksburg, Mississippi surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant after a siege of seven weeks.
On July 4, 1903, the United States conquered the Philippines, through war, massacre, indiscriminate use of torture, and finally … ahem … a treaty. You should read what Mark Twain had to say about that. For instance: “As for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one — our states do it: We can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”
On July 4, 1910, Jack Johnson (black) knocked out Jim Jeffries (white) in a heavyweight boxing match that set off race riots across the United States.
On July 4, 1918, Bolsheviks killed Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his family — a coincidence that has been little noted nor long remembered, possibly because Russia was still on the Old Calendar, or perhaps for other reasons.
On July 4, 1934, Leo Szilard patented the design of a chain reaction that would be used to make the atomic bomb.
On July 4, 1947, the Indian Independence Bill was presented to the British House of Commons, proposing the independence of the British colonies of India and Pakistan. I wonder how that turned out?
And on July 4, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Freedom of Information Act. That commie: giving away state secrets.
This brings us to July 5, 2018, the day Environmental Pollution Agency administrator Scott Pruitt resigned, to spend more time away from his family: which is all of us.