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This Month in Business History


Keating, Maureen, photographer [Fireworks lighting up the night sky near the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.] [4 July 1995]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Fireworks: Beyond the Fourth of July

July 4th marks the founding of the United States, and for many the day would not be complete without the evening fireworks celebration. If you have you ever wondered about the origins of this custom, fireworks appear to have been associated with this day since the founding of the republic.

Dun and Bradstreet Founded

Did you ever wonder where the idea of credit reports came from? In July 1841 Lewis Tappan formed the Mercantile Agency (later Dun & Bradstreet) in New York City. The agency collected a small amount of business information - sales estimate, industry, and bill paying ability - on companies, so that those wanting to do business with each other reliable information. This firm continues on today and has grown to include the publisher Hoover's, another staple of libraries.

Economist Milton Friedman Born

In July of 1912 economist and Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winner Milton Friedman was born. Milton Friedman taught economic theory for many years at the University of Chicago, known collectively as the Chicago School of Economics. Among some of his more well known works are A Monetary History of the United States which was an examination of the role of the money supply and economic activity in U.S. history and A Theory of the Consumption Function, an alternative theory to John Maynard Keynes' The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money.

ZIP Code Introduced

ZIP Code stands for Zone Improvement Plan, and it was introduced on July 1, 1963, as part of a larger Postal Service Nationwide Improved Mail Service (NIMS) plan.

The Bretton Woods Conference & the Birth of the IMF and World Bank

The Bretton Woods Conference was officially known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference and was a gathering of delegates from 44 nations that met from July 1 to 22, 1944 in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The purpose was to agree upon a series of new rules for the monetary system after World War II. It resulted in the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) now the World Bank.

Renewal of the Second Bank of the United States Vetoed

In 1816, five years after the charter of the First Bank of the United States expired President Madison signed the act establishing the Second Bank of the United States with a 20 year charter. On July 10, 1832 President Andrew Jackson vetoed the re-chartering of the Bank.

Sherman Anti-Trust Act Signed into Law

On July 2, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed into law the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and it became the first law passed to prohibit trusts.

The Lanham Act Lays the Foundation for Modern Trademark Law

The Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives Congress power to regulate commerce, modern trademark law in the U.S. is primarily traced to the Lanham Act passed in July 1946.

Butterfield Overland Mail Awarded Contract for Western Mail Delivery

In July 1857, the Post Office awarded the contract for overland mail delivery service to Butterfield and associates that served the longest overland route from the Mississippi River to San Francisco.