Posted on July 4, 2021 at 4:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

July 4 is an important date in literary history as well as in United States history.

Writers Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804), Lionel Trilling (1905), Neil Simon (1927), Jon Anderson (1940), Eileen Goudge (1950), and Margaret Edson (1961) were all born on it.

Authors who died on this day include Thomas Middleton (1627), Samuel Richardson (1761), and Georgette Heyer (1974).

Poet Walt Whitman notched a different milestone: the first edition of his self-published Leaves of Grass was printed on July 4, 1855; it contained a dozen poems.

And some of America’s founding fathers were quite vocal about the value of literature.

“I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough. ... The more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” — John Adams

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” — George Washington

“I cannot live without books; but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.” — Thomas Jefferson

“… read good books because they will encourage as well as direct your feelings.” — Thomas Jefferson again

“The art of reading is to skip judiciously.” — Alexander Hamilton

Want to learn more — okay, read more — about the Fourth of July? Slate has a roundup of books and websites that focus on Independence Day, while Book Riot has chosen the fifty best books about the American Revolution.

Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: Just for fun

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