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This Day In Founding Fathers History – 20 June
On this day in 1863, West Virginia joined the Union as the 35th state. Previously the land comprising the new state had been part of Virginia. Many western counties chose to remain in the Union when Virginia seceded, creating the State of West Virginia. 1
In 1754 on this day, the first municipal water pumping plant in America began operating in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Boston had a public water supply that was gravity fed. The water works in Bethlehem used a system for pumping the water. Pipes fed water from a spring to a cistern, from which a wooden pump forced the water into a tank in the village square for public use. 2
On this day in 1782, the Continental Congress approved the design for the Great Seal of the United States with an American Eagle as its symbol. An explanation of the seal, in part: “…The Olive Branch and arrows denote the power of peace and war which is exclusively vested in Congress. The Constellation denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. The escutcheon is borne on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters, to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own virtue.” 3
1 “Mountaineers Always Freemen,” Today in History, Library of Congress American Memory, memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/today.html
2 “First American community water pumping plant,” Today in Science History, todayinsci.com/6/6_20.htm; “Water Works,” The New International Encyclopedia, Volume 17, http://books.google.com/books?id=cZTPT2NcuYwC&dq=bethlehem+pa+water+plant+1754&source=gbs_navlinks_s
3 “Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789,” Library of Congress American Memory, memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/hlaw:@field(DOCID+@lit(jc022113))