On this day in 1855 Walt Whitman got Leaves of Grass published. It contained a dozen of his poems and is considered a literary classic. It was revises several times with Whitman adding poems along the way. It was published in the middle of the golden age of American literature.
Speaking of which, Henry David Thoreau started his adventures at Walden Pond on this day in 1845. Walden's intent was to live a simplistic life with only the bear minimum of supplies to live off of. It was part of his "civil disobedience" philosophy that inspired many a crack pot, anti-government, lunatic since. But it has also inspired many people that material goods are not what makes a person who they are. I believe this to be a very important point in today's society.
On this day in 1863 the Confederate army surrenders at Vicksburg. The last of the strongholds on the Mississippi River, Vicksburg had been under siege by general Ulysses S Grant for almost a year, and the trenches made any attempt at taking the city nearly impossible. The siege caused much hardship for the citizens of the city and finally that was enough to break the stand off. For the second day in a row the Union Army had a huge victory to hang its hat on.
On this day in 1910 African American boxer Jack Johnson defeated white boxer James Jeffries. In the aftermath of the fight a race riot broke out. Jeffries retired from boxing 6 years prior as the undefeated heavyweight champion. Johnson had previously claimed that title when Jeffries called for a title match to bring the championship back for the white man. When blacks started to celebrate in some cities around the country, police and angry whites broke it up, starting the riots.
On this day 1776 a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their taxes.
50 years later two of them (ok, one of whom wasn't a slave owner) died on the same day. 2nd president John Adams died while saying "Jefferson still survives". Not so fast, Thomas Jefferson was already dead a few hours. Guess he missed that mass-text.