The History of the Fourth of July

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The Fourth of July — also known as Independence Day or July 4th — has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th Century and the American Revolution.

On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Britain, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

But, there is a lot more to this most American of holidays. Click on the links for a package from

A History of Independence Day

• Early Fourth of July Celebrations

Fourth of July Becomes a Federal Holiday

A Photo Gallery: The Founding Fathers


A very happy Thanksgiving Day to all


This oil painting by the iconic American artist Norman Rockwell is called “Freedom from Want.” It also is known as “The Thanksgiving Picture” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

It is the third work in the “Four Freedoms” series of four oil paintings by Rockwell inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, a speech known as “Four Freedoms.”

The painting was created in November 1942 and published in the March 6, 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post magazine. All of the people in the picture were friends and family of Rockwell in Arlington, Vermont, who were photographed individually and painted into the scene.


Rotary tour of Burden Iron Works Museum scheduled

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-5-56-49-pmIf you’re unfamiliar with the former Burden Ironworks in Troy, you’ve missed a major part of America’s industrial history. But, you can remedy the oversight.

The Hudson Shores Rotary Club is iniviting Rotarians from throughout District 7190 members to attend a special tour on Tuesday, November 15, of the Burden Ironworks Museum, beginning at 12:45 p.m. The guide is Michael Barrett, executive director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway (HMIG) organization.

Please email Ken Rose at if you plan to attend. Family members and friends are welcome to participate. There is no required fee to attend, but a $10 donation that would go toward support of HMIG is suggested.

Among many items the local iron industry contributed to the growth of the United States: the hull armor for the Union ironclad ship Monitor in the Civil War; the modern Read More »

Celebrating Labor Day


This is one of many murals painted by artists across the country as part of the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1934 to 1943 to celebrate the range and energy of the American labor force.

If you’re not familiar with the Federal Art Project category of the WPA’s efforts at rebuilding the nation as we came out of the Great Depression — or even if you are and haven’t seen examples in a while — you can find a lot of information online. And, you can find an 11-image slideshow here from The New York Times.

In Rensselaer County, the main U.S. Post Office on Broadway in Troy has such art on its lobby walls. Seen below are “Rip Van Winkle” and “Legends of the Hudson,” both painted in 1938 by Waldo Pierce.


Today in history

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On August 5 in …

1583 –- Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what now is St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

1735 -– New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger is acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.

1816 –- The British Admiralty dismisses Francis Ronalds’s new invention of the first working electric telegraph as “wholly unnecessary,” preferring to continue using the semaphore.

1861 –- To help pay for the expenses of waging the Civil War, the U.S. government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872).

1884 –- The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island (later renamed Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.