A country is born -- and later expands, an "Iron Horse" retires and we lose three presidents, all on this day in history.
1776: The United States Declaration of Independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
1790: The Welsh surveyor George Everest, whom Mount Everest is named for, is born.
1802: The United States Military Academy opens in West Point, N.Y.
1803: The Louisiana Purchase is announced in newspapers. The property, which included all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska and parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Louisiana, was purchased from France for $15 million (or 3 cents an acre).
1817: The construction on the Erie Canal begins at Rome, N.Y. The canal, shown here in this 1840 map, travels about 363 miles from Albany, N.Y., on the Hudson River to Buffalo, N.Y., at Lake Erie, and was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard the Great Lakes that did not require portage.
1826: Thomas Jefferson (left), the third U.S. president, dies the same day as John Adams (right), the second U.S. president, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence.
1826: Songwriter Stephen Foster, who wrote "Oh! Susanna", "Camptown Races" and "My Old Kentucky Home" among other songs, is born.
1831: James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, dies.
1845: Writer Henry David Thoreau begins his two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond near Concord, Mass. The experiment would result in the book "Walden," published in 1854.
1848: The cornerstone for the Washington Monument is laid in Washington, D.C. The monument is seen here under construction in 1860.
1855: The first edition of Walt Whitman's book of poems "Leaves of Grass" is published in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1862: Author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson created "Alice in Wonderland" for Alice P. Liddell. Three years later on July 4, 1865, the first edition of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was released under Dodgson's pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
1872: Calvin Coolidge, the 30th U.S. president, is born.
1884: The completed Statue of Liberty is formally presented to United States Ambassador to France Levi P. Morton at a ceremony in Paris. The statue was later shipped in pieces to America for reassembly in New York City.
1888: The first professional rodeo in America is held in Prescott, Ariz. The rodeo continues to this day, billing itself as the "World's Oldest Rodeo," as seen in this 2010 photo.
1895: The song "America the Beautiful" was first published in the church periodical The Congregationalist.
1930: George Steinbrenner, who would go on to own the New York Yankees, is born.
1934: Boxer Joe Louis wins his first professional fight.
1934: At Mount Rushmore, George Washington's face is dedicated.
1939: Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, tells a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considers himself "The luckiest man on the face of the Earth" as he announces his retirement from baseball.
1959: The short-lived 49-star U.S. flag debuts, six months and one day after the admission of Alaska in January 1959. The U.S. Flag Act calls for new flag designs to become official on the July 4 following admission of one or more new states.
1960: Due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on Aug. 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuts in Philadelphia almost 10 and a half months later.
1961: Actress Lauren Bacall marries actor Jason Robards four years after the death of her first husband, Humphrey Bogart, seen here with Bacall in her film debut, 1944's "To Have and Have Not."
1970: Casey Kasem hosts radio's "American Top 40" for the first time.
1971: Koko, a female gorilla that would go on to learn sign-language, is born.
1976: Elton John and Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" is released.
1980: The movie comedy "Airplane!" is released.
1990: 2 Live Crew releases the single "Banned in the U.S.A." The song's title is a reference to the decision in a court case that its album "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" was obscene. That decision would later be overturned on appeal.
1990: "Die Hard 2" is released.
1997: NASA's Pathfinder space probe lands on the surface of Mars.
2003: Soul singer Barry White dies.
2004: The symbolic cornerstone One World Trade Center, then known as the Freedom Tower, is laid on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City.
2009: The Statue of Liberty's crown reopens to the public after eight years, due to security concerns following the World Trade Center attacks.
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