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U.S. women's soccer team wins record 4th World Cup title

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/us-womens-soccer-team-wins-fourth-world-cup-title

On July 7, 2019, after a dominating tournament showing, the U.S. women’s national team brings home a record fourth FIFA World Cup title—its second in a row.

Held in host country France, the 2-0 final saw the United States facing the Netherlands, with the first goal scored in the match’s 61st minute. Following a video review, it was determined U.S. forward Alex Morgan, 30, had been fouled inside the penalty box, and forward Megan Rapinoe, 34, converted the penalty kick.

Eight minutes later, midfielder Rose Lavelle, 24, scored again on an 18-yard shot. Both Rapinoe and Lavelle had suffered hamstring injuries earlier in the tournament but were cleared to play. Rapinoe was awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball (for best player) and Golden Boot (for most goals—she tied Morgan and Ellen White of England with six a piece, but Rapinoe played fewer minutes).

The team set a women’s World Cup record with 26 goals and 12 straight wins, tying Germany as the only teams to score repeat championships. With four World Cup wins—in 1991, 1999, 2015 and 2019—the U.S. is the only team to have won more than two titles (no country other than Germany has won more than one title). The team’s 13-0 thrashing of Thailand in its opening match also set a record of most goals and largest margin of victory in a single World Cup game—by either men or women.

At the end of the final, fans chanted “Equal pay!” in support of an ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit by players Morgan, Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn against the U.S. Soccer Federation. 

“Forrest Gump” opens, wins Tom Hanks a second Oscar

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/forrest-gump-opens-wins-hanks-a-second-oscar

On July 6, 1994, the movie Forrest Gump opens 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 was based on a 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom, who (like his main character) grew up in Alabama and served in the Army during Vietnam. In the film—which included now-famous lines like “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”—Forrest is a star runner and ping-pong prodigy who inadvertently rubs elbows with the key figures in a number of landmark events, from Elvis to the Civil Rights Movement to Watergate to the rise of Apple computers. He pursues and eventually marries his childhood friend Jenny, played by Robin Wright Penn, who veered from Forrest’s conservative path and became a hippie in the 1960s. Some commentators argued that Jenny’s eventual demise was a statement about the counter-culture movement in America.

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 John F. Kennedy, John Lennon and Richard Nixon.

The win was Hanks’ second in the Best Actor category. A year earlier, the actor had nabbed an Oscar for his starring role as a lawyer with AIDS in Philadelphia (1993). With Forrest Gump, Hanks became only the second actor, after Spencer Tracy, to win back-to-back Oscars. 

Dalai Lama, leader of Tibet, is born

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/dalai-lama-leader-of-tibet-and-bestselling-author-is-born

On July 6, an infant named Tenzin Gyatso, future leader of Tibet, is born to a peasant family in Takster, Tibet. At age two, he will be declared the Dalai Lama. 

In 1937, the child was declared the reincarnation of a great Buddhist spiritual leader and named the 14th Dalai Lama. His leadership rights were exercised by a regency until 1950. That same year, he was forced to flee by the Chinese but negotiated an agreement and returned to lead Tibet for the next eight years. In 1959, an unsuccessful Tibetan nationalist uprising led to a crackdown by China, and the Dalai Lama fled to Punjab, India, where he established his democratic government in exile. In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to the nonviolent liberation of Tibet.

In 1998, his book The Art of Happiness, written with psychiatrist Howard Cutler, became a bestseller. His next book, Ethics for the New Millennium (1999), cracked the bestseller lists in August 1999, giving him two titles in the Top 10. Although drawing on Buddhist teachings, the books argue that spiritual faith is not necessary to live a contented, peaceful life.

John Lennon meets Paul McCartney for the first time

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/john-meets-paul-for-the-first-time

The front-page headline of the Liverpool Evening Express on July 6, 1957, read “MERSEYSIDE SIZZLES,” in reference to the heat wave then gripping not just northern England, but all of Europe. The same headline could well have been used over a story that received no coverage at all that day: The story of the first encounter between two Liverpool teenagers named John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Like the personal and professional relationship it would lead to, their historic first meeting was a highly charged combination of excitement, rivalry and mutual respect.

It’s easy to assume that John and Paul would eventually have met on some other day had a mutual friend not chosen that hot and humid Saturday to make the introduction. But as much as they had in common, the two boys lived in different neighborhoods, went to different schools and were nearly two years apart in age.

Only John was scheduled to perform publicly on July 6, 1957. The occasion was the annual Woolton Parish Church Garden Fete, a parade and outdoor fair at which John and his Quarrymen Skiffle Group had been invited to play. The main attractions were a dog show and a brass band, but a family connection had helped get the Quarrymen added to the bill as a nod to the hundreds of teenagers in attendance. Midway through their first set, 15-year-old Paul McCartney showed up and watched, transfixed, as John, despite his rudimentary guitar skills and his tendency to ad-lib in place of forgotten lyrics, held the crowd with charm and swagger. After the show, it was Paul’s turn to impress John.

A mutual friend made the introduction in the nearby church auditorium, where John and his bandmates slouched on folding chairs and barely acknowledged the younger boy. Then Paul pulled out the guitar he was carrying on his back and began playing Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock,” then Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop A Lula,” then a medley of Little Richard numbers. As Jim O’Donnell writes in The Day John Met Paul, his book-length account of this historic moment in music history, “A young man not easily astonished, Lennon is astonished.” Paul’s musicianship far outstripped the older Lennon’s, but more than that, John recognized in Paul the same passion Paul had detected in John during his earlier onstage performance. Soon Paul was teaching a rapt John how to tune his guitar and writing out the chords and lyrics to some of the songs he’d just played.

Later that evening, walking home with one of his bandmates, John announced his intentions toward their new acquaintance. Two weeks later, John Lennon invited Paul McCartney to join the Quarrymen.

Germany gives Austria-Hungary “blank check” assurance

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germany-gives-austria-hungary-blank-check-assurance

On July 5, 1914, in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany pledges his country’s unconditional support for whatever action Austria-Hungary chooses to take in its conflict with Serbia, a long-running rivalry thrown into crisis by the assassination, the previous June 28, of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by a Serbian nationalist during an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Barely a week after Franz Ferdinand’s murder, the Austrian Foreign Ministry sent an envoy, Alexander, Graf von Hoyos, to Berlin. Hoyos carried a memorandum from the office of the Austrian foreign secretary, Leopold Berchtold, expressing the need for action in the tumultuous Balkans region, as well as a personal letter to the same effect from Emperor Franz Josef to Kaiser Wilhelm. Both documents focused on the need for Austria-Hungary to establish an alliance with Bulgaria, in place of Romania—which Germany had previously favored as a possible Balkan ally—due to the latter nation’s increasing closeness with Serbia and its powerful supporter, Russia. Neither the memorandum nor the emperor’s letter specified that Austria-Hungary wanted war, but the memorandum—a new version of an earlier, less emphatic text written before Franz Ferdinand’s assassination—stressed the need for immediate action, pointed to increased Serbian and Russian aggression and stated as an objective the elimination of Serbia as “a factor of political power in the Balkans.”

Austria’s ambassador to Germany, Ladislaus Szogyeny-Marich, passed Hoyos’ two documents to the kaiser over lunch on July 5, in Potsdam. Wilhelm was outraged by Franz Ferdinand’s murder, and felt a sense of personal loss: the two had met at the archduke’s country estate just two weeks before the assassination to discuss the situation in the Balkans. Though he initially demurred and said he needed to consult the German chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, he eventually—when pressed by the ambassador—responded with uncharacteristic decisiveness, promising Germany’s “faithful support” for Austria-Hungary in whatever action it chose to take towards Serbia, even if Russia intervened. Later that afternoon, Wilhelm assembled a crown council, attended by Bethmann Hollweg, Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, and War Minister Erich von Falkenhayn, among others. From this meeting, a consensus emerged backing the kaiser’s decision, which Bethmann Hollweg subsequently relayed to the Austrian representatives and Hoyos triumphantly carried back to Vienna.

The kaiser’s pledge, which historians have referred to as the carte blanche or “blank check” assurance, marked a decisive moment in the chain of events leading up to the outbreak of the First World War in Europe during the summer of 1914. Without Germany’s backing, the conflict in the Balkans might have remained localized. With Germany promising to support Austria-Hungary’s punitive actions towards Serbia, even at the cost of war with Russia, whose own powerful allies included France and Great Britain, the possible Balkan War threatened to explode into a general European one.

READ MORE: Why Kaiser Wilhelm Was Never Tried for Starting World War I

Congress adopts Olive Branch Petition

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/congress-adopts-olive-branch-petition

On July 5, 1775, the Continental Congress adopts the Olive Branch Petition, written by John Dickinson, which appeals directly to King George III and expresses hope for reconciliation between the colonies and Great Britain. Dickinson, who hoped desperately to avoid a final break with Britain, phrased colonial opposition to British policy as follows: “Your Majesty’s Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.”

By phrasing their discontent this way, Congress attempted to notify the king that American colonists were unhappy with ministerial policy, not his own. They concluded their plea with a final statement of fidelity to the crown: “That your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your Dominions with honour to themselves and happiness to their subjects, is our sincere prayer.”

By July 1776, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed something very different: “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Congress’ language is critical to understanding the seismic shift that had occurred in American thought in just 12 months. Indeed, Congress insisted that Thomas Jefferson remove any language from the declaration that implicated the people of Great Britain or their elected representatives in Parliament. The fundamental grounds upon which Americans were taking up arms had shifted. The militia that had fired upon Redcoats at Lexington and Concord had been angry with Parliament, not the king, who they still trusted to desire only good for all of his subjects around the globe.

This belief changed after King George refused to so much as receive the Olive Branch Petition. Patriots had hoped that Parliament had curtailed colonial rights without the kings full knowledge, and that the petition would cause him to come to his subjects’ defense. When George III refused to read the petition, Patriots realized that Parliament was acting with royal knowledge and support. Americans’ patriotic rage was intensified by the January 1776 publication by English-born radical Thomas Paine of Common Sense, an influential pamphlet that attacked the monarchy, which Paine claimed had allowed crowned ruffians to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears.

READ MORE: American Revolution: Causes and Timeline

Chicago White Sox accused of throwing World Series

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/sox-accused-of-throwing-world-series

After Judge Hugo Friend denies a motion to quash the indictments against the major league baseball players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, a trial begins with jury selection. The Chicago White Sox players, including stars Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte, subsequently became known as the “Black Sox” after the scandal was revealed.

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 most likely initiated by first baseman Chick Gindil and small-time gambler Joseph Sullivan. Later, New York gambler Arnold Rothstein reluctantly endorsed it. The schemers used the team’s discontent to their advantage: Through intermediaries, Rothstein offered relatively small sums of money for the players to lose some of the games intentionally. The scandal came to light when the gamblers did not pay the players as promised, thinking that they had no recourse. But when the players openly complained, the story became public and authorities were forced to prosecute them.

The trial against the players was actually just for show. After a tacit agreement whereby the players assented not to denigrate major league baseball or Comiskey in return for an acquittal, the signed confessions from some of the players mysteriously disappeared from police custody.

The jury acquitted all of the accused players and then celebrated with them at a nearby restaurant. But the height of the hypocrisy surrounding the entire matter came when Shoeless Joe was forced to sue Comiskey for unpaid salary. During this trial, Comiskey’s lawyers suddenly produced the confessions that had disappeared during the criminal trial, with no explanation as to how they had been obtained.

Arnold Rothstein never even faced trial, and Comiskey hoped to go back to business as usual. However, all did not end well for everyone. Other baseball owners, hoping to remove any hint that the games were illegitimate, hired Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to be the new commissioner of baseball. Landis was a hard-liner (and also a racist—he prevented blacks from playing in the major leagues during his reign into the 1940s) who then permanently barred the implicated Black Sox players from baseball.

Landis’ decision has come under considerable criticism for its unfairness to a few of the players. Buck Weaver, by all accounts, had refused to take any money offered by the gamblers. He was purportedly banned from baseball for refusing to turn his teammates in. And although Shoeless Joe Jackson probably accepted some money, his statistics show that he never truly participated in throwing the games—he had the best batting average of either team in the series.

George Bernard Shaw quits his job

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/george-bernard-shaw-quits-his-job

On July 5, 1880, George Bernard Shaw, 23, quits his job at the Edison Telephone Company in order to write.

Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, and left school at the age of 14 to work in a land agent’s office. In 1876, he quit and moved to London, where his mother, a music teacher, had settled. He worked various jobs while trying to write plays. He began publishing book reviews and art and music criticism in 1885. Meanwhile, he became a committed reformer and an active force in the newly established Fabian Society, a group of middle-class socialists.

His first play, Widowers’ House, was produced in 1892. His second play, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, was banned in Britain because of its frank dealing with prostitution. In 1905, when the play was performed in the U.S., police shut it down after one performance and jailed the actors and producers. The courts soon ruled that the show could re-open. Although some private productions were held, the show wasn’t legally performed in Britain until 1926.

Shaw became the theater critic for the Saturday Review in 1895, and his reviews during the next several years helped shape the development of drama. In 1898, he published Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, which contained Arms and the Man, The Man of Destiny and other dramas. In 1904, Man and Superman was produced.

In his work, Shaw supported socialism and decried the abuses of capitalism, the degradation of women, and the evil effects of poverty, violence, and war. His writing was filled with humor, wit, and sparkle, as well as reformist messages, and his play Pygmalion, produced in 1912, later became the hit musical and movie My Fair Lady.

In 1925, Shaw won the Nobel Prize for literature and used the substantial prize money to start an Anglo-Swedish literary society. He lived simply, abstained from alcohol, caffeine, and meat, declined most honors and awards, and continued writing into his 90s. He produced more than 40 plays before his death in 1950.

Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/american-colonies-declare-independence

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts 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.

The first major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army in America. Under the banner of “no taxation without representation,” colonists convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the tax.

With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766.

READ MORE: 7 Events That Led to the American Revolution

Why did the American Colonies declare independence?

Most colonists continued to quietly accept British rule until Parliament’s enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade.

The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In response, militant Patriots in Massachusetts organized the “Boston Tea Party,” which saw British tea valued at some 18,000 pounds dumped into Boston Harbor.

The British Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops.

The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

With the other colonies watching intently, Massachusetts led the resistance to the British, forming a shadow revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist the increasing British military presence across the colony.

In April 1775, Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.

Initially, both the Americans and the British saw the conflict as a kind of civil war within the British Empire: To King George III it was a colonial rebellion, and to the Americans it was a struggle for their rights as British citizens.

However, Parliament remained unwilling to negotiate with the American rebels and instead purchased German mercenaries to help the British army crush the rebellion. In response to Britain’s continued opposition to reform, the Continental Congress began to pass measures abolishing British authority in the colonies.

How did the American Colonies declare independence?

In January 1776, Thomas Paine published “Common Sense,” an influential political pamphlet that convincingly argued for American independence and sold more than 500,000 copies in a few months. In the spring of 1776, support for independence swept the colonies, the Continental Congress called for states to form their own governments, and a five-man committee was assigned to draft a declaration.

The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. In justifying American independence, Jefferson drew generously from the political philosophy of John Locke, an advocate of natural rights, and from the work of other English theorists.

The first section features the famous lines, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The second part presents a long list of grievances that provided the rationale for rebellion.

READ MORE: How the Declaration of Independence Came to Be

When did American colonies declare independence?

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion calling for separation from Britain. The dramatic words of this resolution were added to the closing of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July 4, the declaration was formally adopted by 12 colonies after minor revision. New York approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed.

The Revolutionary War would last for five more years. Yet to come were the Patriot triumphs at Saratoga, the bitter winter at Valley Forge, the intervention of the French, and the final victory at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally became a free and independent nation.

Confederates surrender at Vicksburg

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/confederates-surrender-vicksburg

The Confederacy is torn in two when General John C. Pemberton surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The Vicksburg campaign was one of the Union’s most successful of the war. Although Grant’s first attempt to take the city failed in the winter of 1862-63, he renewed his efforts in the spring. Admiral David Porter had run his flotilla past the Vicksburg defenses in early May as Grant marched his army down the west bank of the river opposite Vicksburg, crossed back to Mississippi, and drove toward Jackson. After defeating a Confederate force near Jackson, Grant turned back to Vicksburg. On May 16, he defeated a force under John C. Pemberton at Champion Hill. Pemberton retreated back to Vicksburg, and Grant sealed the city by the end of May. In three weeks, Grant’s men marched 180 miles, won five battles, and took 6,000 prisoners.

Grant made some attacks after bottling Vicksburg, but found the Confederates well entrenched. Preparing for a long siege, his army constructed 15 miles of trenches and enclosed Pemberton’s force of 29,000 men inside the perimeter. It was only a matter of time before Grant, with 70,000 troops, captured Vicksburg. Attempts to rescue Pemberton and his force failed from both the east and west, and conditions for both military personnel and civilians deteriorated rapidly. Many residents moved to tunnels dug from the hillsides to escape the constant bombardments. Pemberton surrendered on July 4, and President Abraham Lincoln wrote that the Mississippi River “again goes unvexed to the sea.”

The town of Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth of July for 81 years.