Independence Day – 5 moments that changed American history
On the same day in 1776, the Thirteen American Colonies, who at the time were still embroiled in a war with the British, declared themselves to be independent states no longer ruled by the British Empire. The Revolutionary War would last for five more years until 1783, when the United States, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, formally became a free and independent nation.
As this year marks the 243rd Independence Day, let’s look back at some of the turning points in US history.
The Mann Act is passed
Though the law’s primary intent was to address immorality, prostitution and human trafficking, its ambiguous language eventually resulted in consequences that would go beyond the original intent.
An example of this was the wrongful conviction of heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in 1912. Johnson was convicted not once, but twice under the Mann Act and sentenced to a year in prison as a result of racially motivated charges against him.
He was posthumously pardoned by president Donald Trump in May 2018 – 105 years after his conviction.
The 19th Amendment is adopted
Its two sections read: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Though this political equality was implied in the 14th Amendment in 1868, the majority of states continued to limit or ban women’s suffrage until 1920.
Charles Lindbergh arrives in Paris
Though Lindberg was not the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic, or even the first to do so without any stopovers, he was the first to master the journey alone – a feat that left a tremendous impression on the nation and the world.
For the first time ever, humankind began to visualize the opportunities the sky and eventually, global air traffic presented – akin to the roads used by cars today.
Jackie Robinson breaks color barrier in major league baseball
Though there was no law prohibiting African Americans from entering the major league at the time, the Commissioner of Baseball at the time, Kenesaw Landis, advised everyone “to abide by the gentleman’s agreement.”
It would take another 12 years before every major league team had at least one African American player on their team.
Apollo 11 lands on the moon
And yet, on July 21st, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot onto another planet when Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon with him and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin in tow.
“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” were the famous first words commander Neil Armstrong radioed back to Earth when touching down on the lunar surface 50 years ago.