Today In History...

In 1497 Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci sails on his first voyage to the New World. America was named for him.
In 1503 Columbus discovers the Cayman Islands.
In 1774 Louis XVI becomes King Of France at age four.
In 1775 The Continental Congress issues paper currency for the first time.
In 1775 Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys capture the British-held fortress at Ticonderoga, New York.
In 1818 American patriot Paul Revere dies in Boston.
In 1865 Union forces capture Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Irwinville, Georgia.
In 1869 A golden spike is driven at Promontory, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.
In 1872 Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman nominated for the U.S. presidency by the National Equal Rights party.
In 1908 The first Mother's Day is observed during church services in Grafton, West Virginia, and Philadelphia.
In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover becomes the director of the FBI.
In 1930 The first U.S. planetarium opens, in Chicago Illinois.
In 1933 The Nazis stage massive public book burnings in Germany.
In 1940 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigns and Winston Churchill forms a new government.
In 1940 The German blitzkrieg (lightning war) begins in Europe with air attacks on Rotterdam and other Dutch cities.
In 1941 Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, parachutes into Scotland on what he said was a peace mission to end World War II. Hess is later convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
In 1968 Preliminary Vietnam peace talks begin in Paris, France.
In 1977 Actress Joan Crawford dies in New York.
In 1978 Britain's Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon announce they were getting a divorce after 18 years of marriage.
In 1981 Socialist Francois Mitterrand defeats incumbent Valery Giscard d'Estaing in the second round of France's presidential election.
In 1983 A federal appeals court in Washington reinstates the Abscam bribery conviction of former U.S. Rep. Richard Kelly of Florida.
In 1984 The Continental Illinois Bank deposit run begins, followed by a huge federal bailout a week later.
In 1984 The International Court of Justice in The Hague rules the U.S. should immediately halt any actions to blockade or mine Nicaragua's ports. (The U.S. said it would disregard the ruling.)
In 1984 A Federal court rules that government negligence was to blame for nine cancer deaths, resulting from atomic tests in the 1950s.
In 1988 An eight-day strike by workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, ends without an agreement.
In 1988 French President Francois Mitterrand names Socialist Michel Rocard to be premier following Mitterrand's decisive victory in France's presidential election.
In 1989 In Panama, the government of General Manuel Antonio Noriega announces it had nullified the country's elections, which independent observers said the opposition had won by a 3-1 margin.
In 1990 The government of China announces the release of 211 dissidents who had been involved in pro-democracy demonstrations a year earlier.
In 1991 Alexander Bessmertnykh becomes the first Soviet foreign minister to visit Israel as he met with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister David Levy.
In 1992 Astronaut Pierre Thuot tries but failed to snag a wayward satellite during a spacewalk outside the shuttle Endeavour. (Three astronauts capture it three days later.)
In 1993 At least 188 workers are killed in a doll factory fire in Bangkok, Thailand.
In 1994 John Wayne Gacy is executed in Illinois for the killings of 33 men and boys.
In 1994 Nelson Mandela is sworn in as first black president of South Africa.
In 1994 An annular, or "ring," eclipse cast a moving shadow across the U.S.
In 1995 One hundred miners die in elevator accident in Orkney, South Africa.
In 1995 Terry Nichols is charged in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing.
In 1995 Former President Bush's office releases his letter of resignation from the National Rifle Association.
In 1997 An earthquake in northeastern Iran kills at least 2,400 people.
In 1997 President Clinton signs drug-fighting and trade agreements with Caribbean leaders in Barbados.
In 1997 Lebanese of all faiths welcome Pope John Paul II on his first visit to their country.
In 1998 The FAA grounds older models of the Boeing 737 after mandatory inspections of some aircraft found extensive wear in power lines through wing fuel tanks.
In 1999 A military jury sentences Captain Richard Ashby, a Marine pilot whose jet clipped an Italian gondola cable and sent 20 people plunging to their deaths, to six months in prison and dismissed him from the corps for helping hide a videotape shot during the flight.
In 1999 Cartoonist, playwright and songwriter Shel Silverstein is found dead in his Key West, FL, apartment; he was 66.
In 2000 A blaze set intentionally to clear brush near Los Alamos becomes the most destructive wildfire on record in New Mexico, burning 260 homes and forcing 25,000 to evacuate.
In 2002 Eleven French engineers, their Pakistani driver and a passer-by are killed in a suicide bombing in Karachi.
In 2003 The New York Times announces on its web site that one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, had "committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud."


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