July 10- 1913: The world’s highest recorded temperature, 134.1°F (56.7°C), is measured at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, CA. (No word if anyone casually said, “…but it’s a dry heat.”) 1940: Nazi troops attack shipping convoys in the English Channel, beginning “The Battle of Britain” that lasted through October. 1991: Boris Yeltsin is sworn in as the first president of the newly renamed Russian Federation. 2012: The American Episcopal Church becomes the first denomination to approve a rite for blessing gay marriages.

July 11- 1804: Founding father and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton is shot and mortally wounded in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. Hamilton would die the following day. 1960: “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is first published in Philadelphia, PA. The book and author were awarded a Pulitzer Prize the following year. 1979: Skylab, America’s first space station launched in 1973, disintegrates and burns up over the Indian Ocean as it falls to Earth. 2015: Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman escapes from a maximum security prison in Mexico through a mile-long tunnel that had been dug from a nearby house to his cell. He was recaptured six months later.

July 12- 1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs a law creating the Medal of Honor Award, the highest honor for members of the US Armed Forces. The first medals were awarded in March, 1863 to six Union soldiers who participated in a daring raid behind Confederate lines and stole a locomotive and train. 1909: The US Congress approves the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, sending it to the states for ratification. The Amendment became law in February 1913, allowing Congress to create the federal income tax (and assuring the misery and consternation of generations of American taxpayers every April 15!). 1914: Babe Ruth debuts as the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. 1962: The Rolling Stones make their debut at the Marquee Club in London, England.

July 13- 1832: American geographer Henry Schoolcraft discovers the source of the Mississippi River as a trickle of water flowing out of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota. 1865: NY Tribune editor Horace Greeley advises readers, “Go west, young man.” 1923: The prominent “HOLLYWOODLAND” sign is officially dedicated near Los Angeles, CA. When the series of 45-foot tall letters was renovated in 1949, workers removed the last four letters!

A 1920s photo of workers posing in front of the Hollywoodland sign. Courtesy of the Hollywood Sign Trust and HollywoodPhotographs.com

1985: “Live Aid” concerts, featuring the most prominent musical performers of the day, are held in London and Philadelphia, and televised to a worldwide audience. The effort raised over $70 million for African famine relief.

July 14- 1789: The French Revolution begins as French citizens storm the notorious Bastille Prison in Paris and tear it to the ground. 1798: Congress adopts a series of “Alien and Sedition Acts,” severely restricting the rights of non-citizens and outlawing “false, scandalous, and malicious” writing about the Federal government. A clear violation of the US Constitution, the laws were repealed or allowed to expire after the 1800 presidential election. 1881: The notorious outlaw Henry McCarty, better known as “Billy the Kid,” is shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett at the Maxwell Ranch in New Mexico. 1946: Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” is first published by Duell, Sloan & Pearce, and becomes a hugely popular roadmap for new parents of the “Baby Boom” generation.

July 15- 1799: The Rosetta Stone is uncovered in Egypt by a group of Napoleon’s troops while digging a foundation to expand a fortress. Inscribed on the stone were three versions of a royal decree, using three languages (hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek). Scholars were able to use the information to translate and understand Egyptian hieroglyphics, which had been used up until the end of the fourth century. 1869: Margarine is patented by French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès (no doubt sending shockwaves through the French culinary world and receiving exasperated exclamations of “Mon Dieu!” from French chefs!) 1883: Charles Stratton, known to the world as General Tom Thumb while performing in P. T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth,” dies from a stroke at the age of 45. Stratton had stopped growing normally as a young child and was measured at a height of 2’ 10” on his 21st birthday. 1996: Prince Charles and his wife Diana, Princess of Wales, sign divorce papers to end their fifteen-year marriage

July 16- 1439: Kissing is outlawed in England in a futile effort to stop the spread of the “Black Death,” better known today as the bubonic plague. Unfortunately, the plague was found to have spread from infected fleas traveling on British rodents, beyond the reach of the ban on kissing! 1519: A public debate between theologians Martin Luther and Johann Eck, during which Luther denies the concept of papal infallibility, marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. 1969: Apollo 11 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9:32 a.m. EDT, carrying astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins to the moon. 1999: A small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr. crashes in the Atlantic Ocean off Martha’s Vineyard, MA, killing Kennedy, his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette.

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