Today in History

Today in History

Today is Thursday, July 8, the 189th day of 2021. There are 176 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 8, 1947, a New Mexico newspaper, the Roswell Daily Record, quoted officials at Roswell Army Air Field as saying they had recovered a “flying saucer” that crashed onto a ranch; officials then said it was actually a weather balloon. (To this day, there are those who believe what fell to Earth was an alien spaceship carrying extra-terrestrial beings.)

On this date:

In 1776, Col. John Nixon gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, outside the State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia.

In 1853, an expedition led by Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Yedo Bay, Japan, on a mission to seek diplomatic and trade relations with the Japanese.

In 1889, The Wall Street Journal was first published.

In 1911, cowgirl “Two-Gun Nan” Aspinwall became the first woman to make a solo trip by horse across the United States, arriving in New York 10 months after departing San Francisco.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman named Gen. Douglas MacArthur commander-in-chief of United Nations forces in Korea. (Truman ended up sacking MacArthur for insubordination nine months later.)

In 1972, the Nixon administration announced a deal to sell $750 million in grain to the Soviet Union. (However, the Soviets were also engaged in secretly buying subsidized American grain, resulting in what critics dubbed “The Great Grain Robbery.”)

In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford announced he would seek a second term of office.

In 1989, Carlos Saul Menem was inaugurated as president of Argentina in the country’s first transfer of power from one democratically elected civilian leader to another in six decades.

In 1994, Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s communist leader since 1948, died at age 82.

In 2000, Venus Williams beat Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 7-6 (3) for her first Grand Slam title, becoming the first Black female champion at Wimbledon since Althea Gibson in 1957-58.

In 2010, violent protests erupted in Oakland, California, after a Los Angeles jury convicted a white former transit officer, Johannes Mehserle (yoh-HAH’-nes MEZ’-ur-lee), of involuntary manslaughter (instead of murder) in the videotaped fatal shooting of a Black man, Oscar Grant.

In 2019, billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sexually abusing dozens of underage girls; the newly unsealed federal indictment came more than a decade after he secretly cut a deal with federal prosecutors to dispose of nearly identical allegations. (Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell a month later; the medical examiner ruled his death a suicide.)

Ten years ago: Former first lady Betty Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93. Atlantis thundered into orbit on a cargo run that would close out the three-decade U.S. space shuttle program. Ohio State vacated its wins from the 2010 football season, including its share of the Big Ten championship and a victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, as it responded to the NCAA’s investigation of a memorabilia-for-cash scandal.

Five years ago: On the first day of a two-day summit in Warsaw, NATO leaders geared up for a long-term standoff with Russia, ordering multinational troops to Poland and the three Baltic states as Moscow moved forward with its own plans to station two new divisions along its western borders. Ten states (Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming) sued the federal government over rules requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms conforming to their gender identity, joining a dozen other states in the latest fight over LGBT rights. (Nebraska, which led the effort, later asked to drop the lawsuit after the Trump administration ended the protection.)

One year ago: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an executive order requiring masks to be worn in Georgia’s largest city, setting up a confrontation with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. President Donald Trump threatened to hold back federal money if school districts did not bring their students back in the fall. The head of the Tulsa City-County Health Department in Oklahoma said a Trump campaign rally in June had “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases there. Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection; the 200-year-old company became the latest major clothing retailer to be toppled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Steve Lawrence is 86. Actor Jeffrey Tambor is 77. Rock musician Jaimoe Johanson is 76. Ballerina Cynthia Gregory is 74. Actor Kim Darby is 74. Actor Jonelle Allen is 73. Children’s performer Raffi is 73. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is 72. Actor Anjelica Huston is 70. Writer Anna Quindlen is 69. Actor Kevin Bacon is 63. Actor Robert Knepper is 62. Rock musician Andy Fletcher (Depeche Mode) is 60. Country singer Toby Keith is 60. Rock singer Joan Osborne is 59. Writer-producer Rob Burnett is 59. Actor Rocky Carroll is 58. Actor Corey Parker is 56. Actor Lee Tergesen is 56. Actor Michael B. Silver is 54. Actor Billy Crudup is 53. Actor Michael Weatherly is 53. Singer Beck is 51. Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco is 48. Actor Kathleen Robertson is 48. Christian rock musician Stephen Mason (Jars of Clay) is 46. Actor Milo Ventimiglia (MEE’-loh vehn-tih-MEEL’-yuh) is 44. Singer Ben Jelen (YEL’-in) is 42. Actor Lance Gross is 40. Actor Sophia Bush is 39. Rock musician Jamie Cook (Arctic Monkeys) is 36. Actor Jake McDorman is 35. Actor Maya Hawke is 23. Actor Jaden Smith is 23.

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