Today in History – August 4

1735 – Freedom of the press was established with an acquittal of John Peter Zenger. The writer of the New York Weekly Journal had been charged with seditious libel by the royal governor of New York. The jury said that “the truth is not libelous.”

1753 – George Washington became a Master Mason.

1790 – The Revenue Cutter Service was formed. This U.S. naval task force was the beginning of the U.S. Coast Guard.

1821 – “The Saturday Evening Post” was published for the first time as a weekly.

1914 – Britain declared war on Germany in World War I. The U.S. proclaimed its neutrality.

1921 – The first radio broadcast of a tennis match occurred. It was in Pittsburgh, PA.

1922 – The death of Alexander Graham Bell, two days earlier, was recognized by AT&T and the Bell Systems by shutting down all of its switchboards and switching stations. The shutdown affected 13 million phones.

1934 – Mel Ott became the first major league baseball player to score six runs in a single game.

1944 – Nazi police raided a house in Amsterdam and arrested eight people. Anne Frank, a teenager at the time, was one of the people arrested. Her diary would be published after her death.

1954 – The uranium rush began in Saskatchewan, Canada.

1956 – William Herz became the first person to race a motorcycle over 200 miles per hour. He was clocked at 210 mph.

1957 – Florence Chadwick set a world record by swimming the English Channel in 6 hours and 7 minutes.

1957 – Juan Fangio won his final auto race and captured the world auto driving championship. It was his the fifth consecutive year to win.

1958 – The first potato flake plant was completed in Grand Forks, ND.

1958 – Billboard Magazine introduced its “Hot 100” chart, which was part popularity and a barometer of the movement of potential hits. The first number one song was Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool.”

1972 – Arthur Bremer was found guilty of shooting George Wallace, the governor of Alabama. Bremer was sentenced to 63 years in prison.

1977 – U.S. President Carter signed the measure that established the Department of Energy.

1983 – New York Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield threw a baseball during warm-ups and accidentally killed a seagull. After the game, Toronto police arrested him for “causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.”

1984 – Carl Lewis won a gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympics.

1984 – Upper Volta, an African republic, changed its name to Burkina Faso.

1985 – Tom Seaver of the Chicago White Sox achieved his 300th victory.

1985 – Rod Carew of the California angels got his 3,000th major league hit.

1986 – The United States Football League called off its 1986 season. This was after winning only token damages in its antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League.

1987 – The Fairness Doctrine was rescinded by the Federal Communications Commission. The doctrine had required that radio and TV stations present controversial issues in a balanced fashion.

1987 – A new 22-cent U.S. stamp honoring noted author William Faulkner, went on sale in Oxford, MS. Faulkner had been fired as postmaster of that same post office in 1924.

1989 – Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani offered to assist end the hostage crisis in Lebanon.

1990 – The European Community imposed an embargo on oil from Iraq and Kuwait. This was done to protest the Iraqi invasion of the oil-rich Kuwait.

1991 – The Oceanos, a Greek luxury liner, sank off of South Africa’s southeast coast. All of the 402 passengers and 179 crewmembers survived.

1994 – Yugoslavia withdrew its support for Bosnian Serbs. The border between Yugoslavia and Serb-held Bosnia was sealed.

1996 – Josia Thugwane won a gold medal after finishing first in the marathon. He became the first black South African to win a gold medal.

1997 – Teamsters began a 15-day strike against UPS (United Parcel Service). The strikers eventually won an increase in full-time positions and defeated a proposed reorganization of the company’s pension plan.

2007 – NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft was launched on a space exploration mission of Mars. The Phoenix lander descended on Mars on May 25, 2008.

2009 – North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pardoned two American journalists, who had been arrested and imprisoned for illegal entry earlier in the year.

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