Today in history

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On August 5 in …

1583 –- Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what now is St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

1735 -– New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger is acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.

1816 –- The British Admiralty dismisses Francis Ronalds’s new invention of the first working electric telegraph as “wholly unnecessary,” preferring to continue using the semaphore.

1861 –- To help pay for the expenses of waging the Civil War, the U.S. government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872).

1884 –- The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island (later renamed Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.

Today in history

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On August 4 in …

1693 –- This is the date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon’s invention of Champagne, although it is not clear whether he actually invented the wine. However, most historians concur he was an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine.

1783 –- Mount Asama erupts in Japan, killing about 1,400 people. The eruption causes a famine, which results in an additional 20,000 deaths.

1889 –- The Great Fire of Spokane destroys 32 blocks of the Washington city, prompting a mass rebuilding project.

1977 –- President Jimmy Carter signs legislation creating the federal Department of Energy.

1987 -– The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rescinds the “Fairness Doctrine” which had required radio and television stations to present controversial issues “fairly.”

Today in history

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On August 3 in …

1852 –- Harvard University wins the first boat race with Yale University, the first American intercollegiate athletic event. The racing series continues to this day.

1921 –- Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis confirms the ban of eight Chicago White Sox players for allegedly fixing the World Series and earning the infamous nickname Black Sox, despite the fact the athletes had been acquitted by a Chicago court.

1946 –- Santa Claus Land, the world’s first themed amusement park, opens in Santa Claus, Indiana.

1949 –- The Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL)  finalize their merger to create the modern National Basketball Association (NBA).

1977 –- Tandy Corporation announces the availability of the TRS-80, one of the world’s first mass-produced personal computers.

Today in history

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On August 2 in …

1610 –- English explorer Henry Hudson, in the employ of Dutch financial backers, sails his ship the Half Moon into what now is known as Hudson Bay, Canada, thinking he had made it through the fabled Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean.

1776 -– The Declaration of Independence is formally signed by representatives of the 13 founding states.

1923 –- Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes President of the United States upon the death of President Warren G. Harding.

1934 –- Adolf Hitler becomes führer — a title meaning “leader” or “guide” — of Germany following the death of President Paul von Hindenburg.

1990 -– The Iraqi army, under Saddam Hussein, invades neighboring Kuwait, an action that touches off the First Gulf War.

Today in history

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On August 1 in …

30 BC -– Octavian, later known as Augustus, enters Alexandria, Egypt, bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic.

1498 –- Christopher Columbus led the first European group to visit what now is Venezuela.

1774 –- British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen gas, corroborating the prior discovery of this element by the German-Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

1876 –- Colorado is admitted as the 38th U.S. state.

1981 –- MTV begins broadcasting. Its first video is titled “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by The Buggles.

Today in history

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On July 31 in …

30 BC –- In Egypt, Mark Antony achieves a minor victory over Octavian’s forces in the Battle of Alexandria, but most of his army subsequently deserts, leading to his suicide.

1492 –- Under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the expulsion of all Jews from Spain is begun as the Alhambra Decree takes effect.

1777 –- The Second Continental Congress passes a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.” Du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette, was two months shy of his 20th birthday.

1790 –- The first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford, VT,  for an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” Potash is one of several salts mined to extract its potassium. Because there was no federal Patent Office at that time, Hopkins received the patent after petitioning for it under the new U.S. patent statute signed into law by President Washington on April 10 of that year.

2012 –- Swimmer Michael Phelps breaks the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most medals won at the Olympic Games. He compiled 22 medals (18 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze medals); the Soviet gymnast had won 14 (6 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze).