On This Day, April 6, 1776 – Continental Congress Says US Ports Open to World

Continental Fleet at Sea

1776 – The Continental Congress takes the first step toward American independence by announcing their decision to open all American ports to international trade with any part of the world that is not under British rule.

It was the first act of independence by the Continental Congress that had so openly and publicly rejected the American Prohibitory Act passed by the British Parliament in December 1775. The act was designed to punish the American colonies for the rebellion against the king and British rule, which had begun with the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, by banning all British trade with America. It was, in essence, a declaration of economic warfare by Great Britain. For its part, the Continental Congress’ decision to open all ports to any country but those ruled by Britain constituted America’s declaration of economic independence.

The economic relationship between Britain and the 13 colonies had been mercantilist – the colonies provided raw materials such as rice and tobacco to the mother country, Great Britain, and in return received manufactured goods such as textiles and ceramics or foreign goods such as tea. Under the mercantile system, all American imports and exports had to pass through Great Britain on their way to and from the colonies. Undoing this economic relationship was a necessary aspect of freeing the colonies from the control of the British empire.


1830 – In Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organizes the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers.

Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ–later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–in Fayette Township.

The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy, and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois.

1862 – The Civil War explodes in the west as the armies of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston collide at Shiloh, near Pittsburgh Landing in Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became one of the bloodiest engagements of the war, and the level of violence shocked North and South alike.

1917 – Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I.


 

1968 – Stanley Kubrick  releases 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Jumping seamlessly from Africa in the Pleistocene Era to a space-shuttle cabin some 4 million years later, the film clocked in at around three hours and contained less than 40 minutes of dialogue. Stretches of absolute silence or of the sound of human breathing (mimicking the external and internal experience of being inside a space suit) were interspersed with grand orchestral scores, including work by both Richard and Johann Strauss. Kubrick intended 2001 to be a primarily visual–rather than verbal–experience, and the scarcity of dialogue and languid pacing only enhanced the impact of the film’s impressive visual effects.

Though 2001 received many negative reviews when it was released–The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, for one, called it “monumentally unimaginative”–its prestige grew over the years and it is now regarded by many as Kubrick’s masterwork and one of the most significant films of the 20th century. Its sweeping visual style and psychedelic special effects directly influenced space blockbusters such as George Lucas’ Star Wars movies. At the 41st annual Academy Awards in April 1969, the film did not receive a nomination for Best Picture.

Source: History.com