4th of July: Not Just for the USA

In the United States, we’ll be celebrating Independence Day this weekend. July 4 marks the signing of America’s Declaration of Independence from England. However, the date is only one of 365 (or 366) dates in existence. Unsurprisingly, other things have happened on this date. If you’re looking for American patriotism, consider this map of over 300 places named after George Washington. For a change of pace, check out these lesser-known July 4 events.

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While American independence was about a colony separating itself from the rule of a king, there are several royal July 4th events that precede it. In 414, 13 year-old Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II passed the throne to his older sister to rule as regent. In 1120, Jordan II became Prince of Capua when his infant nephew died, in what is now Naples, Italy. About 400 years later, Christian III was elected King of Denmark and Norway. And another half a millennia after that, in 1918, Ottoman sultan Mehmed VI ascended to the throne. The first and the last of these royal events occurred in Instanbul.

July 4th isn’t just for princes, kings, emperors, and sultans. It’s also a day of wonder. In 1892, there were two July 4ths in Western Samoa, as the state changed the International Date Line. Similarly wondrous are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 1862, Lewis Carroll first told the story that three years later to the day would be published as the now-famous book.

The date also factors heavily into WWII history. In Lviv, Ukraine, Nazis massacred Polish scientists and writers. Meanwhile, in Riga, Latvia, saw the Burning of the Riga synagogues. A year later the 250 day Siege of Sevastopol ended with an Axis victory. In 1943, there was the largest full-scale battle in history in Kursk, Russia, as well as a Royal Air Force accident in Gibraltar, Spain.

A few years prior to those war events saw one of the most famous speeches in sports history. Lou Gehrig gave his “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech to a sold out crowd at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939.

Back in the US, there are a couple of American Revolution era events that aren’t the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In 1754 George Washington surrendered Fort Necessity during the French and Indian War. And on July 4, 1826, early presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day.

Explore the map above to see all 76 culled from this Wikipedia entry. You can also select specific year ranges on the map using BatchGeo’s grouping technology. Clearly, American Independence is not alone when it comes to major July 4 events.