Today In History...

In 1497 Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci sailed on his first voyage to the New World. America was named for him.

In 1503 Columbus discovered the Cayman Islands.

In 1774 Louis XVI became King Of France at age four.

In 1775 The Continental Congress issued paper currency for the first time.

In 1775 Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys captured the British-held fortress at Ticonderoga, New York.

In 1818 American patriot Paul Revere died in Boston.

In 1865 Union forces captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Irwinville, Georgia.

In 1869 A golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah, marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.

In 1872 Victoria Woodhull became the first woman nominated for the U.S. presidency by the National Equal Rights Party.

In 1908 The first Mother's Day was observed during church services in Grafton, West Virginia, and Philadelphia.

In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover became the director of the FBI.

In 1930 The first U.S. planetarium opened in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1933 The Nazis staged massive public book burnings in Germany.

In 1940 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned, and Winston Churchill formed a new government.

In 1940 The German blitzkrieg (lightning war) began in Europe with air attacks on Rotterdam and other Dutch cities.

In 1941 Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, parachuted into Scotland on what he said was a peace mission to end World War II. Hess was later convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life in prison.

In 1968 Preliminary Vietnam peace talks began in Paris, France.

In 1977 Actress Joan Crawford died in New York.

In 1978 Britain's Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon announced they were getting a divorce after 18 years of marriage.

In 1981 Socialist Francois Mitterrand defeated incumbent Valery Giscard d'Estaing in the second round of France's presidential election.

In 1983 A federal appeals court in Washington reinstated the Abscam bribery conviction of former U.S. Rep. Richard Kelly of Florida.

In 1984 The Continental Illinois Bank deposit run began, followed by a massive federal bailout a week later.

In 1984 The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled 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 ruled that government negligence was blamed 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, ended without an agreement.

In 1989 In Panama, the government of General Manuel Antonio Noriega announced 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 announced the release of 211 dissidents who had been involved in pro-democracy demonstrations a year earlier.

In 1991 Alexander Bessmertnykh became 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 tried 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 were killed in a doll factory fire in Bangkok, Thailand.

In 1994 John Wayne Gacy was executed in Illinois for the killings of 33 men and boys.

In 1994 Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the 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 died in an elevator accident in Orkney, South Africa.

In 1995 Terry Nichols was charged in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing.

In 1995 Former President Bush's office released his letter of resignation from the National Rifle Association.

In 1997 An earthquake in northeastern Iran killed at least 2,400 people.

In 1997 President Clinton signed drug-fighting and trade agreements with Caribbean leaders in Barbados.

In 1997 Lebanese of all faiths welcomed 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 sentenced Captain Richard Ashby, a Marine pilot. His 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 was found dead in his Key West, FL, apartment; he was 66.

In 2000 Ablaze set intentionally to clear brush near Los Alamos became 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 announced that one of its reporters, Jayson Blair, had "committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud."

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