Born on the Fourth of July

Yes, July 4th is the birthday of America, but it’s also an occasion to salute some of the notable people who share that date—and of course featuring those with the more interesting names. It makes for quite a diverse little birthday party—from Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in 1804, to First Daughter Malia Obama, born in 1998. But we won’t be including three who erroneously claimed the date as their own—composer George M. ‘born on the Fourth of July’ Cohan, MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and Louis Armstrong, whose real date of birth was August 4th.


No, we’re not suggesting you name your son Rube, but Reuben, the proper name of Rube Goldberg, who was known for his wildly elaborate and idiosyncratic comical inventions, is a rich and resonant Old Testament name of a son of Jacob. Sadly neglected, Reuben was Number 149 in 1880, and has gradually slipped ever since. A perfect possibility for a contemporary son of Jacob.

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