Milestones: Tuesday, July 4, 2023
‘THE RESOLUTION ON INDEPENDENCY IS HEREBY ADOPTED!’ — It was on July 4, 1776 that the Second Continental Congress voted to adopt Virginia’s resolution on independence that delegate Richard Henry Lee had secured from the Commonwealth’s governor. A committee was formed to draft the wording of the Declaration itself; members being Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman (delegate from Connecticut), and Robert Livingston (delegate from New York, who wound up being absent when the declaration was actually signed more than a month later, on Aug. 2, 1776. The Declaration is notarized as being “Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, President, Attest, Charles Thomson, Secretary.”
The 1969 Broadway play, which won several Tony Awards, and the movie, “1776,” present a fictionalized retelling of the Second Continental Congress’ debate over “independency.” Both these productions starred Brooklyn-born William Daniels as John Adams, the late Howard da Silva and Ken Howard as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson respectively.
FOREVER LINKED TO JULY 4 — Somehow, the life purpose of both JOHN ADAMS AND THOMAS JEFFERSON was cosmically linked to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, as both Founding Fathers died on the 50th anniversary of this achievement, July 4, 1826. Adams had once written to Jefferson (1813): “You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.” A rift and bitter rivalry had developed between them during the Presidential elections of 1796 and 1800, the latter when Adams lost to Jefferson; although the two did reconcile, thanks to the mediation of Dr. Benjamin Rush.
Adams and Jefferson then resumed a correspondence that, according to December 1924 article in The Atlantic, was freer and deeper in its nature: “They waited in the twilight, gossiped, speculated, and criticized, and gave their ideas such free rein as only completely liberated men dare.”
HER POETRY BECAME A NATIONAL SONG — Katherine Lee Bates, a professor at Wellesley College, wrote the poem titled, “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL,” which was published July 4, 1895 in the Congregationalist, a church publication. Bates, the daughter of a Congregational minister in Massachusetts, earned her B.A. from Wellesley, returning there later to teach English literature and to promote American literature as a new genre. She also authored books on social reform and had public speaking engagements on this topic.
Samuel Augustus Ward (1848-1903) composed the melody that is so familiar to Americans; it is given the tune name “Materna” (referring to motherhood).
‘FATHER OF AMERICAN MUSIC’ — One of America’s most beloved songwriters STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER, was born on the nation’s 50TH birthday, July 4, 1826. Foster became a beloved songwriter and was dubbed the “Father of American music.” His works included, “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” “Old Folks at Home” (“Swanee River”), “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Beautiful Dreamer.”
Foster’s own death was particularly sad: his friend and roommate found him lying in a pool of blood, still alive but perhaps having fallen. The only contents of his wallet were three pennies, Civil War scrip and a note that read, “Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts.” He was transferred to Bellevue Hospital, where he died.
‘AMERICAN TOP 40’ — The radio show “AMERICAN TOP 40” premiered on July 4, 1970 as a hit parade countdown of the day’s most popular songs. Host Casey Kasem’s voice became a familiar and beloved part of the show, which seven AM stations carried at that time. The show’s popularity, particularly its “Long Distance Dedications,” in which listeners requested a particular song that carried special meaning to them and a loved one, expanded its broadcast appeal, and now hundreds of broadcast markets around the world carry the program on Sunday mornings, including in syndication within the U.S.
Born in Michigan to Lebanese Druze parents in 1932, Casey Kasem continued hosting “American Top 40” until 1988. He died in 2014.
VAN BUREN, ABIGAIL AND ANN LANDERS, who have dispensed countless advice to newspaper letter writers, shared a birthdate, July 4, 1918. This is because the two were identical twins — Pauline Esther Friedman and Esther Pauline Friedman — using pen names. In 1955, Friedman persuaded the San Francisco Chronicle that she could write better advice than the current columnist on staff, and she proved herself with just a few columns, although Ann Landers had already established herself as such writing for the Chicago Sun Times. The twins then successfully provided advice to countless Americans, all the while working for competing newspapers.
Their witty answers took advice columns in a new direction. Ann Landers died in 2002. Abigail Van Buren died in January 2013, after having battled Alzheimer’s.
See previous milestones, here.
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