June 30

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Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the basis for a blockbuster 1939 movie was published. In tracing Scarlett O'Hara's life from the antebellum South through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era, Mitchell drew on the tales she had heard from her parents and other relatives, as well as from Confederate war veterans she had met as a young girl. The novel caused a sensation in Atlanta and went on to sell millions of copies in the United States and throughout the world. Gone With the Wind drew criticism for its whitewashed depictions of slavery. Mitchell nonetheless won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, and by that time a movie project was already in the works.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological horror thriller, Psycho, opened in theaters across the US. The plot centers on an encounter between on-the-run embezzler Marion Crane and shy motel proprietor Norman Bates and its aftermath, in which a private investigator, Marion's lover Sam Loomis, and her sister Lila investigate her disappearance. It has been praised as a major work of cinematic art due to its slick direction, tense atmosphere, impressive camerawork, a memorable score and iconic performances. Often ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films, and is widely considered to be the earliest example of the slasher film genre.

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Considered one of the world’s greatest ballet dancers of all time, Soviet virtuoso Mikhail Baryshnikov choreographs his own Cold War-era defection from the U.S.S.R. after four years of planning. Known as “Misha” to his admirers, Baryshnikov, then 26, finished a performance with the Leningrad-based Kirov Ballet in Toronto while on a Canadian tour, and then evaded his KGB handlers, disappearing into the crowd outside, hopping into a waiting car and hiding out until he was officially granted political asylum in Canada. Soon after, he received political asylum in the United States, where he became principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. He became a U.S. citizen on July 3, 1986.

July 1

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The Battle of Gettysburg, one of the largest military conflicts in North American history, began when Union and Confederate forces collided at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Two months prior to Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee had dealt a stunning defeat to the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia. Lee lead his army of 80,000 through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North and clashed with the Union's 100,000 troops. The epic battled lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. 50,000 Union and Confederate lives were lost, making it the most costly battle in US history.

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The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which overseas the voluntary rating system for movies, introduced a new rating, PG-13. According to the MPAA, the content of a PG-13 film “may be inappropriate for a children under 13 years old” and “may contain very strong language, nudity (non-explicit), strong, mildly bloody violence or mild drug content.” On August 10, 1984, the action film Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, became the first-ever PG-13 movie to be released in theaters. All MPAA movie ratings are voted on by a Los Angeles-based ratings board.

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The last Thunderbird, Ford Motor Company’s iconic sports car designed in response to the Chevrolet Corvette, emerged from a Ford factory in Wixom, Michigan. Beginning production in 1955, the Ford Thunderbird became an instant success. John F. Kennedy included 50 Thunderbirds in his 1961 inaugural procession, and even the Beach Boys gave the Thunderbird a mention in their hit song "Fun Fun Fun" in 1964. Sales remained strong until the 1990s, but by 1997, the Thunderbird was no more. In 2002, the T-Bird was resurrected, boasting a nostalgic flair from its original predecessor. While initial sales proved promising, Ford ceased production in 2005, as sales, again, began to slip. 


July 2 

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The Lockheed aircraft carrying American aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan was reported missing near Howland Island in the Pacific. The pair were attempting to fly around the world when they lost their bearings during the most challenging leg of the global journey: Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island, a tiny island 2,227 nautical miles away, in the center of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca lost radio contact with Earhart soon after she sent messages that she was lost and running low on fuel. An intensive search of the vicinity by the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy found no physical evidence of the fliers or their plane and no traces of the plane, Earhart or Noonan have ever been discovered.

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American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway died by suicide at his Ketchum, Idaho home. One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Hemingway's stripped-down new literary voice captivated critics and readers alike. His outsized personality and macho swagger made him a star beyond the printed pages of his literary work. Behind the façade, however, Hemingway faced a lifelong battle against depression, alcoholism and mental health issues. But it wasn’t just Hemingway who suffered, as several generations of his family confronted similar issues, in what one of his granddaughters called the “Hemingway curse.”

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U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House. The most sweeping civil rights legislation passed by Congress since the post-Civil War era, the Civil Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public places such as schools, buses, parks and swimming pools. After using more than 75 pens to sign the bill, he gave them away as mementoes of the historic occasion, in accordance with tradition. One of the first pens went to King, leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), who called it one of his most cherished possessions.

July 3

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George Washington rode out in front of the American troops gathered at Cambridge common in Massachusetts and drew his sword, formally taking command of the Continental Army. Washington, a prominent Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War, had been appointed commander in chief by the Continental Congress two weeks before. In agreeing to serve the American colonies in their war for independence, he declined to accept payment for his services beyond reimbursement of future expenses.

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The U.S. Congress approved the Idaho constitution, making Idaho the 43rd state in the Union. Even as late as 1805, Idaho Native Americans like the Shoshone had never encountered Europeans. That changed with the arrival of the American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark that summer. British fur traders and trappers followed a few years later, as did missionaries and a few hardy settlers. As with many remote western states, large-scale settlement began only after gold was discovered. Thousands of miners rushed into Idaho when word of a major gold strike came in September 1860. By 1880, Idaho boasted a population of 32,610.

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In his first year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jackie Robinson was elected on the first ballot, becoming the first black player inducted into the Cooperstown museum. When the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Robinson to play first base on April 15, 1947, it heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. During his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.

July 4

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In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would eventually encourage France’s intervention on behalf of the Patriots. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.

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Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the last surviving members of the original American revolutionaries who had stood up to the British empire and forged a new political system in the former colonies, die on the same day within five hours of each other. Adams preceded Jefferson as president; it was during this time that their ideas about policy-making became as distinct as their personalities. The irascible and hot-tempered Adams was a firm believer in a strong centralized government, while the erudite and genteel Jefferson believed federal government should take a more hands-off approach and defer to individual states’ rights.

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The completed Statue of Liberty was formally presented to the U.S. ambassador as a commemoration of the friendship between France and the United States. In October 1886, the Statue of Liberty was formally dedicated in a ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland. Six years later, the inspection station on neighboring Ellis Island opened, welcoming more than 12 million immigrants to the U.S. between 1892 and 1954. Above them, the Statue of Liberty brandished her torch, embodying the most famous words from Emma Lazarus’ 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” written to raise funds for the pedestal and later inscribed on a plaque at its base: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

July 5

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Chicago White Sox players, including stars Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte, are accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. The White Sox, who were heavily favored at the start of the World Series, had been seriously underpaid and mistreated by owner Charles Comiskey. The conspiracy to fix the games was concocted by a gambling syndicate preying on the players' discontent. The scandal came to light when the players openly complained after not being paid. The ensuing publicized trial against the players was actually just for show as the players had agreed not to denigrate major league baseball or Comiskey in return for an acquittal. However, the new commissioner of baseball permanently barred the players from professional baseball.

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To protest inaccessibility on the city’s bus system, 19 disabled activists in wheelchairs known as the "Gang of 19" occupied a Denver intersection. Two Regional Transportation District (RTD) buses were surrounded and unable to move for 24 hours. At the time, very few Denver buses were wheelchair accessible. Atlantis, a group dedicated to providing free, individualized care to those in need, recognized the importance of challenging the status quo and did so via an offshoot, ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today). Led by Presbyterian minister Wade Blank, it was ADAPT members who staged the protest, disrupting downtown traffic during rush hour and refusing to budge until RTD agreed to install lifts in at least a third of its fleet.

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Seinfeld, created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, aired its pilot episode on NBC. Over nine seasons and 180 episodes, it starred Seinfeld as a fictionalized version of himself and focused on his personal life with three of his friends: best friend George Constanza (Jason Alexander), former girlfriend Elane Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and his neighbor from across the hall, Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards). Set mostly in an apartment building in Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York City, it has been described as "a show about nothing", often focusing on the minutiae of daily life. Seinfeld is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms of all time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America voted it the No. 2 Best-Written TV Series of All Time (second to The Sopranos).

July 6

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Althea Gibson claimed the women's singles tennis title at Wimbledon and became the first African American to win a championship at London's All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. After winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open again in 1958, Gibson retired from amateur tennis. In 1960, she toured with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, playing exhibition tennis matches before their games. In 1964, Gibson joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the first Black woman to do so. The trailblazing athlete played pro golf until 1971, the same year in which she was voted into the National Lawn Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

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In Annapolis, Maryland, the United States Naval Academy admitted women for the first time. On Oct. 7, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed legislation permitting women to enter the military academies. With male chauvinism and bias working against them in addition to the mental and physical challenges of military training, the women had to work hard to prove themselves — which they quickly did, nailing academics at a higher rate than their male counterparts and slowly earning the respect of their brothers in arms. 55 women from that first class graduated, paving the way for all female cadets, who now comprise more than a quarter of the student body.

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The movie Forrest Gump opened in U.S. theaters. A huge box-office success, the film starred Tom Hanks in the title role of Forrest, a good-hearted man with a low I.Q. who winds up at the center of key cultural and historical events of the second half of the 20th century. Forrest Gump received 13 Academy Award nominations and took home six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Hanks) and Best Director (Robert Zemeckis). The film also won an Oscar for its then-cutting-edge computer-generated imagery (CGI) special effects, which incorporated Forrest Gump into existing news footage with famous world figures including JFK, John Lennon and Richard Nixon.

Rowenna Remulta