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July 4 – this day in history

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The United States was presented with the Statue of Liberty in Paris during the American Revolution on July 4, 1884. Every year on this day, New York hosts the largest July 4 fireworks.

Some interesting facts about the Statue of Liberty:

Edouard de Laboulaye, a French political thinker and U.S. Constitution expert proposed the idea that a monument be gifted to the US to commemorate the American perseverance of freedom and democracy and honour the late President Abraham Lincoln for his work. He talked to many prominent French people and finally, Auguste Bartholdi agreed to sculpt the proposed monument. But when no government funding came, Bartholdi tried every fundraising strategy. From charging visitors to watch the construction of the statue to selling souvenirs and petitioning the French government to allow him to run a national lottery! At last, the American newspaper magnate, Joseph Pulitzer, came up with the idea of printing each donator’s name. This strategy worked and helped them to raise funds.

Another interesting fact is that originally it was designed for the Suez Canal in Egypt. Bartholdi had visited Egypt when he was young and was very impressed with the project of the channel being built between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. At the Paris World Fair in 1867, he met the leader of Egypt and offered to build something as colossal as the pyramids or the sphinx. He designed a huge lady holding a lamp and wearing a loose fitting dress. This statue was to stand as a lighthouse at the entrance of the Suez Canal, but when the Egyptian deal fell through, he pitched this statue for America.

During one of the fundraising events, Bartholdi had taken the statue’s torch as an exhibit to a fair in Philadelphia. The fund raised from here, helped him to complete the statue’s head. He was so pleased with the way Philadelphians responded to the statue that for a time he thought of gifting it to them instead of America!

He even had a plan to cover it in gold, so that it would be visible in the dark, but the task of fundraising was so difficult, he had to do away with it.

Other interesting events that took place on July 4 the world over:

1054: The brightest known supernova first reported by Chinese astrologers. It was also mentioned in Arabic astronomy. It created the Crab Nebula.

1894: The Republic of Hawaii was officially announced and Sanford B Dole became its first president.

1941: First meeting between pathologists Howard Florey and Norman Heatley takes place. After eleven days they are able to successfully recreate penicillin.

1946: Philippines gets independence after forty-eight years of US dominance.

1959: The Cayman Islands becomes a crown colony after being separated from Jamaica.

1960: To represent the new state of Hawaii, a 50th star is added to the American flag.

1996: The free internet service of Hot Mail, e-mail service began on this day.


Text by Tasneem Dhinojwala

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