July 4 is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 180 days remaining.
- 993 - Saint Ulrich of Augsburg canonized.
- 1054 - A supernova is observed by the Chinese and Amerindians near the star ζ Tauri. For several months it remains bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants form the Crab Nebula.
- 1187 - Saladin defeats Guy of Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, at the Battle of Hattin.
- 1776 - American Revolutionary War: The Continental Congress approves a Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain forming the United States of America.
- 1802 - At West Point, New York the United States Military Academy opens.
- 1803 - The Louisiana Purchase is announced to the American people.
- 1817 - At Rome, New York, construction on the Erie Canal begins.
- 1826 - Fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, on which John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of America's Founding Fathers, died. (Luther Martin, another Founding Father would die a few days later, on July 8,1826.)
- 1838 - The Iowa Territory is organized.
- 1837 - Grand Junction Railway, world's first long-distance railway, opens between Birmingham and Liverpool.
- 1840 - The Cunard Line's 700 ton wooden paddlewheel steamer RMS Britannia departs from Liverpool bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia on the first transatlantic passenger cruise.
- 1845 - Near Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau embarks on a two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond (see Walden).
- 1855 - In Brooklyn, New York, the first edition of Walt Whitman's book of poems titled Leaves of Grass is published.
- 1859 - Franco-Piedmontese War: The Battle of Magenta.
- 1862 - Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) goes on a boating picnic with Alice Liddell, who asks to be entertained with a story. This story would grow into Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.
- 1863 - American Civil War: Battle of Vicksburg - Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army capture the Confederate city Vicksburg, Mississippi after the town surrendered. The siege lasted 47 days.
- 1865 - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is published.
- 1881 - In Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute opens.
- 1894 - The short-lived Republic of Hawaii is proclaimed by Sanford B. Dole.
- 1910 - African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocks out white boxer Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight boxing match sparking race riots across the United States.
- 1918 - Ottoman sultan Mehmed VI ascends to the throne.
- 1918 - Bolsheviks kill Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family (Julian calendar date).
- 1927 - Initial flight of the Lockheed Vega.
- 1934 - Joe Louis wins his first professional boxing match.
- 1934 - Leo Szilard patents the chain-reaction design for the atomic bomb.
- 1939 - Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, tells a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself "The luckiest man on the face of the earth" as he announces his retirement from major league baseball.
- 1941 - Mass murder of Polish scientists and writers, committed by Nazi Germans in captured Polish city of Lvov.
- 1946 - After over 400 years, the Philippines achieves full independence.
- 1950 - First broadcast by Radio Free Europe
- 1959 - With the admission of Alaska as the 49th U.S. state earlier in the year, the 49-star flag of the United States debuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- 1960 - Due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on August 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania almost ten and a half months later (see Flag Act).
- 1966 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act into United States law. The act goes into effect the next year.
- 1976 - Israeli commandos raid Entebbe airport in Uganda, rescuing most of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by pro-Palestinian hijackers.
- 1987 - In France, former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie (aka the "Butcher of Lyon") is convicted of crimes against humanity and is sentenced to life imprisonment.
- 1990 - On 214th anniversary of the United States Declaration of Independence, Die Hard 2: Die Harder is the second Die Hard movie to open in theaters, starring Bruce Willis.
- 1997 - NASA's Pathfinder space probe lands on the surface of Mars.
- 1998 - Lin "Spit" Newborn and Daniel Shersty are murdered by neonazis in the desert just outside Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
- 2002 - Three people are shot at the El Al check-in booth at Los Angeles International Airport. The gunman is shot and killed by a security officer.
- 2002 - A Prestige Airlines cargo Boeing 707 crashes just short of the runway in Bangui, Central African Republic killing 25
- 2004 - The cornerstone of the Freedom Tower is lain on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. (This was largely a symbolic event; actual construction would not start for several weeks)
- 1330 - Ashikaga Yoshiakira, Ashikaga shogun (d. 1367)
- 1540 - Gackt Camui, song writer and singer (self-claimed)
- 1546 - Murat III, Ottoman Emperor (d. 1595)
- 1799 - Joseph François Oscar Bernadotte, future king Oscar I of Sweden-Norway (d. 1859)
- 1804 - Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer (d. 1864)
- 1807 - Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian patriot
- 1826 - Stephen Foster, songwriter ("Oh! Susanna", "Camptown Races") (d. 1864)
- 1845 - Thomas Barnardo, Irish founder of homes for underprivileged children
- 1847 - James Anthony Bailey, co-founder with Phineas Taylor Barnum of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
- 1872 - Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States
- 1878 - George M. Cohan, singer, dancer, composer, actor, writer (d. 1942)
- 1883 - Rube Goldberg, cartoonist (d. 1970)
- 1902 - Meyer Lansky, mobster (d. 1983)
- 1902 - George Murphy, dancer, actor, Senator from California (d. 1992)
- 1904 - Angela Baddeley, actress, Mrs Bridges on Upstairs Downstairs, sister of Hermione Baddeley (d. 1976)
- 1910 - Gloria Stuart, actress
- 1911 - Mitch Miller, bandleader, television personality
- 1917 - Manolete (Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez), bullfighter (d. 1947)
- 1918 - Ann Landers, advice columnist (d. 2002)
- 1918 - Abigail Van Buren, advice columnist and twin sister to Ann Landers
- 1921 - Tibor Varga, violinist, conductor and pedagogue
- 1924 - Eva Marie Saint, actress: North by Northwest, On the Waterfront
- 1927 - Gina Lollobrigida, actress
- 1930 - George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees
- 1938 - Bill Withers, singer/songwriter
- 1943 - Konrad "Conny" Bauer, musician, free jazz trombonist
- 1943 - Geraldo Rivera, reporter, talk show host
- 1946 - Ron Kovic, author (Born on the Fourth of July)
- 1951 - Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, U.S. political figure
- 1967 - Vinny Castilla, Mexican baseball player
- 1974 - La'Roi Glover, American football player
- 1976 - Daijiro Kato, Japanese motorcycle racer
- 1986 - Shane Kippel, Canadian actor
- 965 - Pope Benedict V
- 1187 - Raynald of Chatillon, executed by Saladin after the Battle of Hattin.
- 1821 - Richard Cosway, English artist
- 1826 - John Adams & Thomas Jefferson, 2nd & 3rd presidents of the United States. In a remarkable coincidence, both of these framers of the United States Declaration of Independence died on the 50th anniversary of its adoption.
- 1831 - James Monroe, 5th president of the United States
- 1838 - Colonel José Antonio Vidaurre and his accomplices, authors of The Riot of Quillota, Chile were shot.
- 1848 - François-René de Chateaubriand, French writer, diplomat
- 1850 - William Kirby, the father of entomology
- 1891 - Hannibal Hamlin, U.S. Vice President under Abraham Lincoln
- 1901 - Johannes Schmidt, German linguist
- 1902 - Swami Vivekananda
- 1910 - Giovanni Schiaparelli, Italian astronomer (b. 1835)
- 1926 - Frassati Piergiorgio, Member of FUCI
- 1931 - Buddie Petit, jazz musician (b. ca 1890)
- 1934 - Marie Sklodowska-Curie, co-discoverer of radium and polonium
- 1970 - Barnett Newman, artist
- 1971 - August Derleth, science fiction and fantasy writer and editor.
- 1975 - Georgette Heyer, author
- 1976 - Antoni Słonimski, Polish poet and writer (b. 1895)
- 1986 - Oscar Zariski, mathematician (b. 1899)
- 1991 - Dr. Victor Chang, Australian doctor, pioneer in heart transplantation, murdered
- 1995 - Eva Gabor, actress
- 1997 - Charles Kuralt, television reporter
Holidays and observances
July 3 - July 5 - June 4 - August 4 - more historical anniversaries
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