History By the Week

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel.

July 8, 1776–The Liberty Bell was rung to mark the reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. The bell’s inscription: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” (Leviticus 25:10)

July 9, 1941–British cryptologists broke the Germans’ Enigma code for messages going to the Eastern Front. The Enigma was the Germans’ famed coding machine. It looked like a complicated typewriter, but it was the most sophisticated coding machine of its time.

July 10, 48 BC–Julius Caesar’s forces suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Dyrrhachium. However, Caesar and the Populares went on to defeat Pompey and the Optimates in what is known as Caesar’s Civil War. The Roman Republic, weakened by several civil wars, eventually became the Roman Empire.

July 11, 1804–”Aaron Burr shot political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr thought Hamilton had insulted his honor during a bitter political campaign. Some claim that Hamilton shot high on purpose in the duel, but there is no doubt that Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach. Hamilton died the next day.

July 12, 1979–Disco symbolically died on Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox. In a promotional stunt that got out of hand, a dumpster of disco records was blown up, and utter chaos resulted as fans stormed the field. The second game of the doubleheader was cancelled, the White Sox forfeited, and disco died.

July 13, 1936–Wisconsin and Michigan both set state heat records. The Wisconsin Dells reached 114 F and Mio, Michigan, hit 112 F. July and August, 1936, saw one of the country’s worst heat waves, setting state records in 14 states. I’m not sure if any of those state records fell this year.

July 14, 1881 and 1882–July 14 was not a good day for gunslingers. Gunslinger Billy the Kid was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881. Gunslinger John Ringo was found dead one year later on July 14, 1882. Some thought Ringo committed suicide, some say he was murdered. Wyatt Earp later claimed to have shot him.

By Doug Peterson

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History by the Slice