History Articles

History of Independence Day: Was the Declaration of Independence really signed on July 4, 1776?

July 4, 2023 /
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Declaration of Independence


Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the severance of the allegiance of the American colonies to Great Britain. It is the most significant secular holiday in the United States, observed in all the states, territories, and dependencies.

Although it is assumed that the Continental Congress unanimously signed the document on the 4th of July, in fact, not all delegates were present, and there were no signers at all, contrary to the theatrical musical 1776.

Here is what actually happened.

History of Alexander Hamilton

July 3, 2023 /
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Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton has gained new popularity in recent years, mainly due to the 2015 Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

What’s the real story behind this enigmatic Founding Father?


History of James Madison: Father of the Constitution

July 3, 2023 /
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James Madison

Among the Founding Fathers, James Madison has justly been called “the Father of the Constitution.” One might think that the Constitution became active on July 5, 1776, but this is not how it happened.

The American Constitution didn’t go into effect until almost a decade and a half after the Declaration of Independence.

How did this philosopher, diplomat, and Founding Father influence this?


History of John Adams

July 2, 2023 /
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John Adams

Before John Adams became the first Vice President of the United States (under George Washington,) the second President of the United States, the first resident of the White House, and a writer of the Massachusetts State Constitution…

he had a role during the Revolutionary War period as one of the creators of the Declaration of Independence.


John Adams and the Committee of Five

He was on the Committee of Five who wrote the Declaration of Independence. At 40, he was more senior than the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson but realized that Jefferson was the more eloquent writer.


History of the 4th of July: Thomas Jefferson

July 2, 2023 /
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Thomas Jefferson

Perhaps no one person is more associated with the 4th of July in American History than Thomas Jefferson, probably because his hand penned the immortal Declaration of Independence.

As my friend Clay Jenkinson — who has been portraying Jefferson for over 20 years — says in his book Thomas Jefferson: The Man of Light:

“The Third President is the Muse of American life, the chief articulator of our national value system and our national self-identity. Jefferson was a man of almost unbelievable achievement: statesman, man of letters, architect, scientist, book collector, political strategist, and utopian visionary. But he is also a man of paradox: liberty-loving slaveholder, Indian-loving relocationist, publicly frugal and privately bankrupt, a constitutional conservative who bought the Louisiana Territory in 1803.”


History of Canada Day

July 1, 2023 /
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Canada Flag

As the U.S. will soon celebrate its Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) marks the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, were united into a single dominion.

The British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act officially confederated Canada on that date. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day, as it was initially called (or Le Jour de la Confederation in French), marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.


Canada Day: Birthday of Canada?

Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday. It did not become separate from the British Empire until 1982 when it gained complete independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. And they didn’t have to fight a Revolutionary War.

Canada still enjoys its status in the British Commonwealth as a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with the British King as head of state. So they get a King and live in the New World, something the U.S. envies. We have created in his place a synthetic royalty: Hollywood movie stars.


History of July: Where Do We Get That Name?

July 1, 2023 /
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July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin, meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. But Marc Anthony changed the name to July after Caesar’s assassination. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year, under ancient rulers Numa or the Decemvirs about 450 B.C. (Roman historians differ). We currently use the more modern Gregorian calendar — recent, as in AD 1582. It uses Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord,” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar curiously, Jesus was born 4 to 6 years B.C. or “Before Christ.”


Calendar and Julius


The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar, which was itself a reform of the previous Roman calendar.

Julius Caesar himself introduced the Julian Calendar in 46 B.C., adding 67 additional days by putting two intercalary months between November and December. According to Cicero, he probably did this after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July). This took care of some of the leap-year problems.

Nevertheless, the Julian Calendar is still in use in some of the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches in Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, North Macedonia, and the autonomous province of Mount Athos in Greece.

It’s used today in the Middle East in the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and parts of North Africa among the Berber and Maghreb people, as well as Ethiopia. It is often referred to by the notation “Old Style” (O.S.) as opposed to the “New Style” (N.S.) of the Gregorian Calendar.


Paris Tour: Paris in a Day, part 3 – Monuments

June 30, 2023 /
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eiffel tower

Paris in a Day – Monuments: Day Three

While you can’t do all of Paris in a day, you can visit a few Museums, Cathedrals, or Monuments.

The two most famous monuments in Paris are within walking distance of each other. First:


The Eiffel Tower

La Tour Eiffel is France’s most popular tourist destination and, indeed, in all of Europe. It is definitely worth seeing, but you must book ahead. There are two separate elevators. The first gets you to the first and second levels, where the shops and restaurants are.


Paris Tour: Paris in a Day, part 2 – Cathedrals

June 29, 2023 /
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1635px notre dame de paris, 4 october 2017

Paris in a Day – Cathedrals: Day Two

You can’t do all of Paris in a day, but you can see a few cathedrals.


Notre Dame de Paris

Of course, this is the most famous cathedral in Paris, but you can’t get inside to visit it due to the 2019 fire. It’s scheduled to reopen in December 2024. So here’s the next best thing.


Paris Tour: Paris in a Day, part 1 – Museums

June 28, 2023 /
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la tour eiffel vue de la tour saint jacques

Paris in a Day – part 1

For Summer vacation, you may be interested in visiting Paris. Can you do it in a day?

Other than visiting a few museums and a couple of fabulous meals, you can’t really see Paris in a day.

But if you only have a day in Paris, here are some things you can do in the “City of Light.”


Visiting World Cities

When people visit a world city, especially in Europe, there are (at least) three things they want to see the fine M.C.M.:

  1. Museums
  2. Cathedrals
  3. Monuments

… and, of course, food and shopping.

You can do one of each or focus on one kind of excursion. To begin, let’s focus on the museums.


History of All You Need Is Love, by The Beatles

June 25, 2023 /
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All You Need Is Love

On June 25, 1967, The Beatles released the song “All You Need Is Love.”

At that time, they participated in the Our World TV show, which used the recently constructed communication satellite system and broadcast their performance across the globe. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said later,

“It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever.”


Impact of All You Need Is Love

With “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles released the anthem of flower power – during the Summer of Love in 1967 – as I’ve written previously about the prominence that summer of their recently released album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.



History of St. John the Baptist Day: Midsummer

June 24, 2023 /
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St John the Baptist

The Feast of St. John the Baptist, or the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, sometimes called St. John the Baptist Day, is celebrated on June 24 in many places worldwide, though not much in the United States, as we’ll see below.

Celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist goes back at least a millennium and a half. The Council of Agde mentions the feast in 506 AD in its list of festivals. Most saints’ festivals are tied to their death, but John’s is an exception, connected to his birth.

I saw this famous painting of John the Baptist above by Leonardo da Vinci, believed to be his last painting, in the Louvre Museum in Paris.