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This Month in History Around the World - JULY

26 July 1865: Parliament sits in Wellington for the first time After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Governor Hobson set his mind to finding a more permanent capital for the new colony. Okiato, Bay of Islands, was initially regarded as the capital but in 1841 Hobson sent a party further south to survey the Whangarei, Mahurangi and Waitematā Harbours for a more central location. Two early choices, what are now Hobsonville and the Panmure Basin, were both rejected. Arriving in Shelly Beach in Ponsonby on July 6th, 1841, Hobson finally decided to establish Auckland as the capital.

Early on, though, there were a number of complaints from representatives in the south of the country, who had a long way to travel to Parliament for each sitting. It would take some members nearly 2 months to make the trip to Auckland. Many considered that it should be even more centrally based and considered the hastily built facilities in Auckland to be lacklustre.

A tentative agreement to alternate between the capital, Auckland, and Wellington was also contentious. An 1860 session which was supposed to be held in Wellington for the first time was cancelled rather unexpectedly by the Auckland MPs. Finally in 1862, Parliament was to sit away from the capital, in Wellington for the first time. Wellington Provincial Superintendent Isaac Featherston had met all the steep specifications of the government and all preparations had been made for the arrival, including the use of the Wellington Provincial Council Building. Unfortunately, a storm blew Governor Grey’s ship halfway to the Chatham Islands, and the vessel carrying many other MPs, Cabinet members and government documents ran aground near Napier. Parliament did finally sit in Wellington, but it was a week later than scheduled.

In the early 1860’s with the ever-increasing wealth and power in the south of the country (due somewhat to the gold rushes), MPs finally pushed for a permanent solution. Three Australian commissioners were employed to survey central locations, including Picton, Blenheim, Havelock and Nelson, in order to break the stalemate. In a simple, 2-page letter they outlined that Wellington was easily the best location for the government to sit permanently.

The move a substantial logistical exercise finally took place in 1865, at a total cost of £54,665 ($6.3 million). Parliament sat for the first time in Wellington as the new capital on the 26th of July and continues to this day to hold that honor although the building that houses the Parliament has changed considerable. These days, the Beehive is a well-known landmark familiar to many New Zealanders.

July 4th 1776 – Independence Day On July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on the fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event. It is a public holiday and parades, fireworks, concerts, family gatherings and the singing of patriotic songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land,” are played.

Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence.

Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts; Roger Sherman of Connecticut; Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania; Robert R. Livingston of New York; and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.

On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Further discussion resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged. The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two -- Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained.

It is an interesting fact of American history that three Founding Father Presidents—John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe—died on July 4, the Independence Day anniversary.

July 2nd 1937 Amelia Earhart sends her last known transmission to the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca. Her message simply ends with “Wait”, and then there was nothing.

Amelia Earhart was born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. She spent most of her childhood with her maternal grandparents, choosing to use her free time exploring the outdoors. In 1908, Earhart moved with her parents to Des Moines, Iowa, then spent her teenage years in St. Paul, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

After World War I began, Earhart volunteered as a nurse for returning soldiers in Toronto; while there she attended a flight exposition and remembered this as the moment she fell in love with planes. Earhart had her first flying lesson in 1921, and she purchased her own plane later that year after working a string of odd jobs to save money. Earhart became an overnight sensation when she was the first female passenger on a transatlantic flight in 1928. She earned the nicknames “Queen of the Air” and “Lady Lindy” because of her similarities to famed pilot Charles Lindbergh.

Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, Earhart expanded her sphere of influence in the aviation world by founding organizations for female pilots and setting aviation records. Departing from Newfoundland and landing in Northern Ireland, Earhart became the first woman to make an independent transatlantic flight in 1932. Earhart set another notable record in 1935 by becoming the first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. Following this success, Earhart began planning a circumnavigation of the globe. After a failed attempt in March 1937, she took off again from Miami and completed over 20,000 miles stopping in South America, Africa, and Asia with the help of navigator Fred Noonan. On the morning of July 2nd they departed Lae Airfield in Papua New Guinea headed for Howland Island. Just before 9:00 AM local time, Earhart and Noonan radioed their coordinates to the local Coastguard vessel Itasca seemingly unable to locate Howland Island. Bad weather and radio connection meant the two didn’t achieve an open line of communication and despite being close to each other in location failed to see each other. The last know location of Earhart and Noonan was near the Nukumanu Islands, east of New Guinea. Despite an intense search nothing was ever found of the plance or its occupants and they were declared lost at sea. Numerous theories have circulated over the years, such as the Japanese captured Earhart and used her Lockheed 10E Electra as a model for their fearsome fighter plane, the Zero or Earhart secretly slipped back into the United States and lived out her years under an assumed name or even that Earhart was spying for the U.S. government and that President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew the Japanese had imprisoned her but kept quiet about it. The group https://roadtoamelia.org/ actively searches and investigates evidence as it has come to light over the years about what happened to Amelia in a final effort to answer the question ‘What happened to Amelia’ once and for all.

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