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• On July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of a new United States of America from Great Britain. The declaration came 442 days after the first shots of the American Revolution.
• On July 14, 1798, Congress passes the Sedition Act. The act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or the U.S. government.
• On July 19, 1879, Doc Holliday commits his first murder, killing a man for shooting up his saloon. Despite his reputation as a deadly gunslinger, Doc Holliday engaged in just eight shootouts during his life, and killed only two men.
• On July 7, 1917, Britain establishes the British Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), authorizing female volunteers to serve alongside their male counterparts in France during World War I. Some 80,000 women enlisted to perform labors such as cookery, mechanical and clerical work, and other tasks.
• On July 17, 1920, Nils Bohlin, the Swedish engineer and inventor responsible for the three-point lap and shoulder seatbelt, is born. Before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in automobiles.
• On July 2, 1937, the Lockheed aircraft carrying American aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan is reported missing in the Pacific. No trace of Earhart or Noonan was found. However, photos taken years later in the Marshall Islands were believed to be of Earhart and Noonan.
• On July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, a fire breaks out under the big top of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus, killing 167 people and injuring 682. An investigation revealed that the tent had been treated with flammable paraffin thinned with three parts of gasoline to make it waterproof.
• On July 3, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Rivers and Harbors Flood Control Bill, which allocates funds to improve flood-control and water-storage systems. The bill was introduced in the wake of disastrous hurricanes that hit the U.S. in 1955.
• On July 8, 1959, Maj. Dale Buis and Master Sgt. Chester Ovnand become the first Americans killed in the U.S. phase of the Vietnam War when guerrillas strike a Military Assistance Advisory Group compound in Saigon.
• On July 18, 1969, after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not report the fatal car accident for 10 hours.
• On July 11, 1979, parts of Skylab, America's first space station, come crashing down on Australia and into the Indian Ocean five years after the last manned Skylab mission ended. Skylab weighed 77 tons.
• On July 1, 1984, the Motion Picture Association of America introduces a new movie rating, PG-13. The action film "Red Dawn" became the first-ever PG-13 movie.
• On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. The 16-hour "superconcert" was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations.
• On July 12, 1995, a heat advisory is issued in Chicago, warning of an impending record-breaking heat wave. When the heat broke a week later, nearly 1,000 people were dead in Illinois and Wisconsin. The temperature in the city hit 106 F with a heat index of 120 F.
• On July 5, 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) announces that all person-to-person transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has ceased. In the previous eight months, the disease had killed 775 people in 29 countries. The first cases of SARS, caused by the SARS coronavirus, appeared in China in November 2002, and soon spread around the world via air travel.
• On July 15, 2006, San Francisco-based podcasting company Odeo officially releases Twttr — later changed to Twitter — its short messaging service (SMS) to the public. The free application allowed users to share status updates by sending one text message to a single number ("40404"). During development, one engineer suggested calling it FriendStalker.
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