The History Place - This Month in History
July

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July 1

July 1st - Canada Day, a national holiday in Canada, formerly known as Dominion Day, commemorating the confederation of Upper and Lower Canada and some of the Maritime Provinces into the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

July 1, 1862 - President Abraham Lincoln signed the first income tax bill, levying a 3% income tax on annual incomes of $600-$10,000 and a 5% tax on incomes over $10,000. Also on this day, the Bureau of Internal Revenue was established by an Act of Congress.

July 1, 1863 - Beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

July 1, 1893 - President Grover Cleveland underwent secret cancer surgery aboard a yacht owned by his friend, Commodore E.C. Benedict. The surgery was performed on a cancerous growth in his mouth. The entire left side of his jaw was removed along with a small portion of his soft palate. A second, smaller operation was performed on July 17th. Cleveland was then fitted with a rubber prosthesis which he wore until his death in 1908. The secrecy was intended to prevent panic among the public during the economic depression of 1893.

July 2

July 2, 1776 - The Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the following resolution, originally introduced on June 7, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia: "Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation."

July 2, 1788 - Congress announced the United States Constitution had been ratified by the required nine states and that a committee had been appointed to make preparations for the new American government.

July 2, 1881 - President James A. Garfield was shot and mortally wounded as he entered a railway station in Washington, D.C. He died on September 19th.

July 2, 1917 - A race riot occurred in St. Louis, Missouri, resulting in an estimated 75 African Americans killed and hundreds injured. To protest the violence against blacks, W.E.B. DuBois and James Weldon Johnson later led a silent march down Fifth Avenue in New York.

July 2, 1964 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations, publicly owned or operated facilities, employment and union membership and in voter registration. The Act allowed for cutoff of Federal funds in places where discrimination remained.

Birthday - The first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Nominated by President Johnson, he began his 24-year career on the High Court in 1967.

July 3

July 3, 1775 - During the American Revolution, George Washington took command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

July 3, 1976 - The raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda occurred as an Israeli commando unit rescued 103 hostages on a hijacked Air France airliner. The jet had been en route from Tel Aviv to Paris when it was hijacked by pro-Palestinian guerrillas. Three hostages, seven hijackers and twenty Ugandan soldiers were killed during the rescue.

July 3, 1988 - Iran Air Flight 655 was destroyed while flying over the Persian Gulf after the U.S. Navy Warship Vincennes fired two surface-to-air missiles, killing all 290 passengers aboard. A subsequent U.S. military inquiry cited stress related human failure for the mistaken identification of the civilian airbus as an enemy F-14 fighter jet.

July 4

July 4, 1776 - The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress.

July 4, 1863- Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrendered to General Grant and the Army of the West after a six week siege. With the Union in control of the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in two, cut off from its western allies.

July 4, 1882 - The "Last Great Buffalo Hunt" began on Indian reservation lands near Hettinger, North Dakota as 2,000 Teton Sioux Indians in full hunting regalia killed about 5,000 buffalo. By this time, most of the estimated 60-75 million buffalo in America had been killed by white hunters who usually took the hides and left the meat to rot. By 1883, the last of the free-ranging buffalo were gone.

Birthday - Novelist and short-story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was born in Salem, Massachusetts. His works included; The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance.

Birthday - Song writer Stephen Foster (1826-1864) was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. Among his nearly 200 songs were; Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races, Swanee River, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, and Beautiful Dreamer. He died in poverty at Bellevue Hospital in New York.

Birthday - Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) the 30th U.S. President was born in Plymouth, Vermont. He became President on August 3, 1923, after the death of Warren G. Harding. In 1924, Coolidge was elected President but did not run for re-election in 1928.

July 5 Return to Top of Page

July 5, 1775- The Continental Congress adopted the Olive Branch Petition expressing hope for a reconciliation with Britain. However, King George III refused even to look at the petition and instead issued a proclamation declaring the colonists to be in a state of open rebellion.

Birthday - Civil War Admiral David Farragut (1801-1870) was born near Knoxville, Tennessee. He is best remembered for his yelling "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" during an attack on his fleet by the Confederates.

Birthday - Promoter and showman P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) was born in Bethel, Connecticut. His American Museum opened in 1842, exhibiting unusual acts such as the Feejee Mermaid, Siamese Twins Chang and Eng, and General Tom Thumb. In 1871, Barnum opened "The Greatest Show on Earth" in Brooklyn, New York. He later merged with rival J.A. Bailey to form the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Birthday - Cecil J. Rhodes (1853-1902) was born at Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. As a South African millionaire and politician, he was said to have once controlled 90 percent of the world's diamond production. His will established the Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University for young scholars aged 18-25. Rhodesia was also named for him.

July 6

July 6, 1885 - Louis Pasteur gave the first successful anti-rabies inoculation to a boy who had been bitten by an infected dog.

Birthday - Revolutionary War Naval Officer John Paul Jones (1747-1792) was born in Kirkbean, Scotland. He is best remembered for responding "I have not yet begun to fight!" to British opponents seeking his surrender during a naval battle.

July 7

July 7, 1898 - President William McKinley signed a resolution annexing Hawaii. In 1900, Congress made Hawaii an incorporated territory of the U.S., which it remained until becoming a state in 1959.

Birthday - Baseball pitcher Leroy R. (Satchel) Paige (1906-1982) was born in Mobile, Alabama. Following a career in the Negro Leagues, he became, at age 42, the first African American pitcher in the American League. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

July 8

July 8, 1776 - The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence occurred as Colonel John Nixon read it to an assembled crowd in Philadelphia.

July 8, 1943 - During the Nazi occupation of France, Resistance leader Jean Moulin died following his arrest and subsequent torture by the Gestapo. He had been sent by the Allies into France in 1942 to unite the fledgling Underground movement. In June of 1943, he was arrested in Lyon, tortured for eleven days but betrayed no one. He died aboard a train while being transferred to a concentration camp.

Birthday - Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979) was born in Bar Harbor, Maine. He served as Governor of New York from 1958 to 1973. He became vice-president under Gerald Ford in 1974, serving until January 20, 1977.

July 9

July 9, 1868 - The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The Amendment defined U.S. citizenship and prohibited individual States from abridging the rights of any American citizen without due process and equal protection under the law. The Amendment also barred individuals involved in rebellion against the U.S. from holding public office.

July 10  Return to Top of Page

July 10, 1943 - The Allied invasion of Italy began with an attack on the island of Sicily. The British entry into Syracuse was the first Allied success in Europe. General Dwight D. Eisenhower labeled the invasion "the first page in the liberation of the European Continent."

July 10, 1973 - The Bahamas gained their independence after 250 years as a British Crown Colony.

July 10, 1991 - Boris Yeltsin took the oath of office, becoming the first popularly elected president in Russia's thousand-year history.

Birthday - Theologian and founder of Presbyterianism, John Calvin (1509-1564) was born in Noyon, France.

Birthday - American artist James Whistler (1834-1903) was born in Lowell, Mass. He is best remembered for his portrait Whistler's Mother.

Birthday - French author Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was born near Paris. "Happiness," he wrote in The Past Recaptured, "is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind."

Birthday - Tennis player Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) was born in Richmond, Virginia. He won a total of 33 titles including the U.S. men's singles championship and U.S. Open in 1968 and the men's singles at Wimbledon in 1975. As a pioneering African American athlete, he fought against racism and stereotyping and was arrested numerous times while protesting. In 1992, he announced he had likely contracted HIV through a transfusion during heart surgery. He then began a $5 million fundraising effort on behalf of the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and campaigned for public awareness regarding the dreaded disease. He died from pneumonia in New York, February 6, 1993.

July 11

Birthday - John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) the 6th U.S. President, and son of the 2nd President, John Adams, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. After serving just one term as President, he served 17 years as a member of Congress. He died in 1848 while in the House of Representatives in the same room in which he had taken the presidential Oath of Office. He was the the first president whose father had also been president.

July 12

July 12, 1943 - During World War II, in the Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history took place outside the small village of Prohorovka, Russia. About nine hundred Russian tanks attacked an equal number of German tanks fighting at close range. When Hitler ordered a cease-fire, 300 German tanks remained strewn over the battlefield.

July 12, 1994 - Germany's Constitutional Court ended the ban on sending German troops to fight outside the country. The ban had been in effect since the end of World War II. The ruling allowed German troops to join in United Nations and NATO peace-keeping missions. On July 14, German military units marched in Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, the first appearance of German troops there since World War II.

Birthday - British pottery designer Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, England.

Birthday - American philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was born in Concord, Massachusetts. At Walden Pond he wrote, "I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."

July 13

July 13, 1787 - Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance establishing formal procedures for transforming territories into states. It provided for the eventual establishment of three to five states in the area north of the Ohio River, to be considered equal with the original 13. The Ordinance included a Bill of Rights that guaranteed freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, public education and a ban on slavery in the Northwest.

July 14

July 14, 1789 - The fall of the Bastille occurred at the beginning of the French Revolution.

July 14, 1791 - In England, the Birmingham riot occurred on the second anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. Mob rule lasted for three days, targeting controversial scientist and theologian Joseph Priestly's home and laboratory as well as the homes of his friends. Priestly, who had expressed support for the American and French revolutions, fled to London with his family and later moved to America.

Birthday - American folk singer and social activist Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was born in Okemah, Oklahoma. Best known for This Land Is Your Land, Union Maid, and Hard Traveling.

Birthday - Gerald R. Ford, the 38th U.S. President was born in Omaha, Nebraska, July 14, 1913 (as Leslie King). In 1973, he was appointed vice president following the resignation of Spiro T. Agnew. He became president on August 9, 1974, following the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. He was the first non-elected vice president and non-elected president of the U.S.

July 15 Return to Top of Page

July 15, 1918 - During the Battle of the Marne in World War I, German General Erich Ludendorff launched Germany's fifth, and last, offensive to break through the Chateau-Thierry salient. However, the Germans were stopped by American, British and Italian divisions. On July 18, General Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied troops, launched a massive counter-offensive. The Germans began a retreat lasting four months until they requested an armistice in November.

Birthday - Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was born in Leiden, Holland. Best known for The Night Watch and many portraits and self portraits.

Birthday - The first American saint, Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917) was born in Lombardy, Italy. She was the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and established Catholic schools, orphanages, convents and hospitals. She was canonized, July 7, 1946, by Pope Pius XII.

July 16

July 16, 1769 - San Diego was founded as the mission San Diego de Alcala by Father Junipero Serra.

July 16, 1945 - The experimental Atomic bomb "Fat Boy" was set off at 5:30 a.m. in the desert of New Mexico desert, creating a mushroom cloud rising 41,000 ft. The bomb emitted heat three times the temperature of the interior of the sun and wiped out all plant and animal life within a mile.

July 16, 1969 - The Apollo 11 Lunar landing mission began with a liftoff from Kennedy Space Center at 9:37 a.m.

July 16, 1999 - A small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. took off at 8:38 p.m. from Fairfield, New Jersey, heading toward Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. His wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister Lauren were passengers on the 200 mile trip. The plane was expected to arrive about 10 p.m. but disappeared off radar at 9:40 p.m. Five days later, July 21, following an extensive search, the bodies were recovered from the plane wreckage in 116 feet of water roughly 7 miles off Martha's Vineyard. The next day, following an autopsy, the cremated remains of John F. Kennedy, 38, his wife Carolyn, 33, and her sister Lauren, 34, were scattered at sea from a U.S. Navy ship, with family members present, not far from where the plane had crashed.

Birthday - British portrait painter Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) was born in Plympton, Devon, England.

Birthday - Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was born near Concord, New Hampshire.

Birthday - African American journalist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was born to slaves at Holly Springs, Missouri. Following the Civil War, as lynchings became prevalent, Wells traveled extensively, founding anti-lynching societies and black women's clubs.

Birthday - Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) was born near Oslo. He was the first to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean via the Northwest Passage. He discovered the South Pole in 1911 and flew over the North Pole in a dirigible in 1926. In June 1928, he flew from Norway to rescue survivors of an Italian Arctic expedition, but his plane vanished.

July 17

July 17, 1918 - In the Russian town of Ekaterinburg in Siberia, former Czar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their five children were brutally murdered by Bolsheviks.

July 17, 1996 - TWA Flight 800 departed Kennedy International Airport in New York bound for Paris but exploded in mid-air 12 minutes after takeoff, apparently the result of a mechanical failure. The Boeing 747 jet crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island about 8:45 p.m. All 212 passengers and 17 crew members on board were killed.

Birthday - Puerto Rican patriot Luis Munoz-Rivera (1859-1916) was born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. He worked tirelessly to attain self-government for his homeland.

July 18

July 18, 1947 - President Harry Truman signed an Executive Order determining the line of succession if the president becomes incapacitated or dies in office. Following the vice president, the speaker of the house and president of the Senate are next in succession. This became the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on February 10, 1967.

Birthday - American politician Samuel Hayakawa (1906-1992) was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is remembered as the college president who climbed atop a sound truck at San Francisco State College in 1968 during student protests, then disconnected the wires thus silencing the demonstrators. This made him popular among conservatives including California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Hayakawa became a Republican and was elected in 1976 to the U.S. Senate, serving just one term. In 1986, he led the successful California initiative to declare English the state's official language.

Birthday - Nelson Mandela was born the son of a Tembu tribal chieftain on July 18, 1918, at Qunu, near Umtata, in South Africa. He became a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944, eventually becoming deputy national president in 1952. In 1964, he was convicted for sabotage as a result of his participation in the struggle against apartheid. He spent the next 28 years in jail, but remained a symbol of hope to South Africa's non-white majority. Released in 1990, he was elected was elected President of South Africa in 1994 in the first election in which all races participated.

July 19

July 19-20, 1848 - A women's rights convention was held at Seneca Falls, New York. Topics discussed included voting rights, property rights and divorce. The convention marked the beginning of an organized women's rights movement in the U.S.

July 19, 1863 - During the American Civil War, Union troops made a second attempt to capture Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina. The attack was led by the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who was killed along with half of the 600 men in the regiment. This battle marked the first use of black Union troops in the war.

Birthday - French impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was born in Paris. Best known for his paintings of dancers in motion.

July 20 Return to Top of Page

July 20, 1715 - The Riot Act took effect in Britain. If a dozen or more persons were disturbing the peace, an authority was required to command silence and read the following, "Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the king." Any persons who failed to obey within one hour were to be arrested.

July 20, 1954 - An agreement was signed in Geneva, Switzerland, ending hostilities between French forces in Vietnam and the People's Army of Vietnam.

July 20, 1969 - A global audience watched on television as Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the moon. As he stepped onto the moon's surface he proclaimed, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" - inadvertently omitting an "a" before "man" and slightly changing the meaning.

Birthday - Explorer Edmund Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand, July 20, 1919. In 1953, he became first to ascend Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 29,023 ft.

July 21

July 21, 1898 - Guam was ceded to the United States by Spain.

Birthday - Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was born in Oak Park, Illinois. His works included; The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952). Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954, he wrote little afterward, became ill and shot himself to death on July 2, 1961.

Birthday - University professor and author Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Best known for stating, "The medium is the message," regarding modern mass communication.

July 22

July 22, 1934 - Bank robber John Dillinger (1902-1934) was shot and killed by FBI agents as he left Chicago's Biograph Movie Theater after watching the film Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy. Dillinger was the first criminal labeled by the FBI as "Public Enemy No. 1." After spending nine years (1924-1933) in prison, Dillinger went on a deadly crime spree, traveling through the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. He was reportedly betrayed by the "Lady in Red."

July 23

July 23, 1952 - Egyptian army officers launched a revolution changing Egypt from a monarchy to a republic.

July 24

July 24, 1943 - During World War II in Europe, the Royal Air Force conducted Operation Gomorrah, raiding Hamburg, while tossing bales of aluminum foil strips overboard to cause German radar screens to see a blizzard of false echoes. As a result, only twelve of 791 Allied bombers involved were shot down.

July 24, 1945 - At the conclusion of the Potsdam Conference in Germany, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and China's representatives issued a demand for unconditional Japanese surrender. The Japanese, unaware the demand was backed up by an Atomic bomb, rejected the Potsdam Declaration on July 26.

Birthday - "The Liberator" Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He is known as the George Washington of South America for his efforts to liberate six nations: Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia from the rule of Spain.

Birthday - French playwright and novelist Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was born in Villers-Cotterets, France. His works included The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

Birthday - American pilot Amelia Earhart (1898-1937) was born in Atchison, Kansas. She became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and to fly solo from Hawaii to California. She perished during a flight from New Guinea to Howland Island over the Pacific Ocean on July 3, 1937.

July 25 Return to Top of Page

July 25, 1898 - During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, which was then a Spanish colony. In 1917, Puerto Ricans became American citizens and Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the U.S. Partial self-government was granted in 1947 allowing citizens to elect their own governor. In 1951, Puerto Ricans wrote their own constitution and elected a non-voting commissioner to represent them in Washington.

July 25, 1909 - The world's first international overseas airplane flight was achieved by Louis Bleriot in a small monoplane. After asking, "Where is England?" he took off from France and landed in England near Dover, where he was greeted by British police.

July 25, 1943 - Mussolini was deposed just two weeks after the Allied attack on Sicily. The Fascist Grand Council met for the first time since December of 1939 then took a confidence vote resulting in Mussolini being ousted from office and placed under arrest. King Victor Emmanuel of Italy then ordered Marshal Pietro Badoglio to form a new government.

July 25, 1956 - The Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria sank after colliding with the Swedish liner Stockholm on its way to New York. Nearby ships came to the rescue, saving 1,634 people, including the captain and the crew, before the ship went down.

July 26

July 26, 1944 - The U.S. Army began desegregating its training camp facilities. Black platoons were then assigned to white companies in a first step toward battlefield integration. However, the official order integrating the armed forces didn't come until July 26, 1948, signed by President Harry Truman.

July 26, 1945 - The U.S. Cruiser Indianapolis arrived at Tinian Island in the Marianas with an unassembled Atomic bomb, met by scientists ready to complete the assembly.

July 26, 1953 - The beginning of Fidel Castro's revolutionary "26th of July Movement." In 1959, Castro led the rebellion that drove out dictator Fulgencio Batista. Although he once declared that Cuba would never again be ruled by a dictator, Castro's government became a Communist dictatorship.

Birthday - Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in Dublin, Ireland.

July 27

July 27, 1953 - The Korean War ended with the signing of an armistice by U.S. and North Korean delegates at Panmunjom, Korea. The war had lasted just over three years.

July 28

July 28, 1932 - The Bonus March eviction in Washington, D.C., occurred as U.S. Army troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower and Major George S. Patton, attacked and burned the encampments of unemployed World War I veterans. About 15,000 veterans had marched on Washington, demanding payment of a war bonus they had been promised. After two months' encampment in Washington's Anacostia Flats, forced eviction of the bonus marchers by the U.S. Army was ordered by President Herbert Hoover.

July 28, 1943 - During World War II, a firestorm killed 42,000 civilians in Hamburg, Germany. The firestorm occurred after 2,326 tons of bombs and incendiaries were dropped by the Allies.

Birthday - Jackie Kennedy (1929-1994) was born in Southampton, New York (as Jacqueline Lee Bouvier). She was married to John Fitzgerald Kennedy and after his death later married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

July 29

Birthday - Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was born in Dovia, Italy. He ruled Italy from 1922-1943, first as prime minister and then as "Il Duce," the absolute dictator.

July 30

July 30, 1975 - Former Teamsters Union leader James Hoffa was last seen outside a restaurant near Detroit, Michigan. His 13-year federal prison sentence had been commuted by President Richard M. Nixon in 1971. On December 8, 1982, seven years after his disappearance, an Oakland County judge declared Hoffa officially dead.

Birthday - Automotive pioneer Henry Ford (1863-1947) was born in Dearborn Township, Michigan. He developed an assembly-line production system and introduced a $5-a-day wage for automotive workers. "History is bunk," he once said.

July 31

July 31, 1776 - During the American Revolution, Francis Salvador became the first Jew to die in the conflict. He had also been the first Jew elected to office in Colonial America, voted a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress in January 1775.

July 31, 1790 - The U.S. Patent Office first opened its doors. The first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a new method of making pearlash and potash. The patent was signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

(Photo and picture credits: Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives)

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