This Day In History

Jul 15, 1918:
Second Battle of the Marne begins with final German offensive

On this day in 1918, near the Marne River in the Champagne region of France, the Germans begin what would be their final offensive push of World War I. Dubbed the Second Battle of the Marne, the conflict ended several days later in a major victory for the Allies.

The German general Erich Ludendorff, convinced that an attack in Flanders, the region stretching from northern France into Belgium, was the best route to a German victory in the war, decided to launch a sizeable diversionary attack further south in order to lure Allied troops away from the main event. The resulting attack at the Marne, launched on the back of the German capture of the strategically important Chemin des Dames ridge near the Aisne River on May 27, 1918, was the latest stage of a major German offensive—dubbed the Kaiserschlacht, or the "kaiser's battle"—masterminded by Ludendorff during the spring of 1918.

On the morning of July 15, then, 23 divisions of the German 1st and 3rd Armies attacked the French 4th Army east of Reims, while 17 divisions of the 7th Army, assisted by the 9th Army, attacked the French 6th Army to the west of the city. The dual attack was Ludendorff's attempt to divide and conquer the French forces, which were joined by 85,000 U.S. troops as well as a portion of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), most of which were located in Flanders.

When the Germans began their advance after an initial artillery bombardment, however, they found that the French had set up a line of false trenches, manned by only a few defenders. The real front line of trenches lay further on, and had scarcely been touched by the bombardment. This deceptive strategy had been put in place by the French commander-in-chief, Philippe Petain.

As a German officer, Rudolf Binding, wrote in his diary of the July 15 attack, the French "put up no resistance in front...they had neither infantry nor artillery in this forward battle-zone...Our guns bombarded empty trenches; our gas-shells gassed empty artillery positions....The barrage, which was to have preceded and protected [the attacking German troops] went right on somewhere over the enemy's rear positions, while in front the first real line of resistance was not yet carried." As the Germans approached the "real" Allied front lines, they were met with a fierce barrage of French and American fire. Trapped and surrounded, the Germans suffered heavy casualties, setting the Allies up for the major counter-attack they would launch on July 18.

Jul 15, 1919:
Iris Murdoch is born

Irish Murdoch, author of 26 intellectually rigorous novels, is born on this day in Dublin.

Murdoch's family moved to London when she was still an infant. Her father, who worked in the civil service, encouraged her to read and discuss books, and she resolved at an early age to become a writer. After earning her degree at Oxford, she worked for the British Treasury and the United Nations until the end of World War II, then returned to academia to become a philosophy professor.

She began teaching at Oxford in 1948, where she met her future husband, John Bayley. Several years younger than Murdoch, Bayley fell in love with her at first sight as she rode by his room on a bicycle one day. The pair married in 1956. Murdoch published her first book, a philosophical study of Sartre, in 1953, and her first novel, Under the Net, was published the following year. She wrote two dozen novels as well as numerous scholarly works and several plays. She won the Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea (1978). Many of her works were turned into plays.

Murdoch was named a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1987 and won many other awards during four decades of writing.

In the mid-1990s, Murdoch was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and died in 1999; not long after, Bayley published Elegy for Iris, a critically acclaimed memoir of their marriage and her decline.

Jul 15, 1941:
Garbo makes an appearance

On this day in 1941, master spy Juan Pujol Garcia, nicknamed "Garbo," sends his first communique to Germany from Britain. The question was: Who was he spying for?

Juan Garcia, a Spaniard, ran an elaborate multiethnic spy network that included a Dutch airline steward, a British censor for the Ministry of Information, a Cabinet office clerk, a U.S. soldier in England, and a Welshman sympathetic to fascism. All were engaged in gathering secret information on the British-Allied war effort, which was then transmitted back to Berlin. Garcia was in the pay of the Nazis. The Germans knew him as "Arabel," whereas the English knew him as Garbo. The English knew a lot more about him, in fact, than the Germans, as Garcia was a British double agent.

None of Garcia's spies were real, and the disinformation he transmitted to Germany was fabricated—phony military "secrets" that the British wanted planted with the Germans to divert them from genuine military preparations and plans.

Among the most effective of Garcia's deceptions took place in June 1944, when he managed to convince Hitler that the D-Day invasion of Normandy was just a "diversionary maneuver designed to draw off enemy reserves in order to make a decisive attack in another place"—playing right into the mindset of German intelligence, which had already suspected that this might be the case. (Of course, it wasn't.) Among the "agents" that Garcia employed in gathering this "intelligence" was Donny, leader of the World Aryan Order; Dick, an "Indian fanatic"; and Dorick, a civilian who lived at a North Sea port. All these men were inventions of Garcia's imagination, but they leant authenticity to his reports back to Berlin—so much so that Hitler, while visiting occupied France, awarded Garcia the Iron Cross for his service to the fatherland.

That same year, 1944, Garcia received his true reward, the title of MBE—Member of the British Empire—for his service to the England and the Allied cause. This ingenious Spaniard had proved to be one of the Allies' most successful counterintelligence tools

Jul 15, 1953:
A notorious English killer is executed

John Christie, one of England's most notorious killers, is executed. Four months earlier, on March 25, the police and a tenant at 10 Rillington Place in West London made an awful discovery: the bodies of four women in an empty apartment, three in a hidden cupboard and one more beneath the floorboards. Christie, who used to live at the house, was apprehended a week later and confessed to the murders.

Since one of the dead women had been identified as Christie's wife, Ethel, police knew where to begin their search for the killer. The three other victims were young women, all of whom had been sexually assaulted. Detectives soon found additional bodies buried in the yard behind the house. Strangely enough, two of the women had not been murdered by Christie, but had died as the result of botched, illegal abortions conducted by another man.

Christie had been plagued his whole life with impotence, which caused the rage that eventually sparked his murder spree. Stories of the grisly discoveries at the soon-to-be infamous house at 10 Rillington Place filled the London tabloids for weeks and fueled the call for Christie's quick execution.

Jul 15, 1964:
Goldwater nominated for president

Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) is nominated by the Republican Party to run for president. During the subsequent campaign, Goldwater said that he thought the United States should do whatever was necessary to win in Vietnam. At one point, he talked about the possibility of using low-yield atomic weapons to defoliate enemy infiltration routes, but he never actually advocated the use of nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia. Although Goldwater later clarified his position, the Democrats very effectively portrayed him as a trigger-happy warmonger. This reputation, whether deserved or not, was a key factor in his crushing defeat at the hands of Lyndon B. Johnson, who won 61 percent of the vote to Goldwater's 39 percent.

Jul 15, 1965:
Mariner 4 studies Martian surface

The unmanned spacecraft Mariner 4 passes over Mars at an altitude of 6,000 feet and sends back to Earth the first close-up images of the red planet.

Launched in November 1964, Mariner 4 carried a television camera and six other science instruments to study Mars and interplanetary space within the solar system. Reaching Mars on July 14, 1965, the spacecraft began sending back television images of the planet just after midnight on July 15. The pictures--nearly 22 in all--revealed a vast, barren wasteland of craters and rust-colored sand, dismissing 19th-century suspicions that an advanced civilization might exist on the planet. The canals that American astronomer Percival Lowell spied with his telescope in 1890 proved to be an optical illusion, but ancient natural waterways of some kind did seem to be evident in some regions of the planet.

Once past Mars, Mariner 4 journeyed on to the far side of the sun before returning to the vicinity of Earth in 1967. Nearly out of power by then, communication with the spacecraft was terminated in December 1967.

Jul 15, 1971:
Nixon announces visit to communist China

During a live television and radio broadcast, President Richard Nixon stuns the nation by announcing that he will visit communist China the following year. The statement marked a dramatic turning point in U.S.-China relations, as well as a major shift in American foreign policy.

Nixon was not always so eager to reach out to China. Since the Communists came to power in China in 1949, Nixon had been one of the most vociferous critics of American efforts to establish diplomatic relations with the Chinese. His political reputation was built on being strongly anti-communist, and he was a major figure in the post-World War II Red Scare, during which the U.S. government launched massive investigations into possible communist subversion in America.

By 1971, a number of factors pushed Nixon to reverse his stance on China. First and foremost was the Vietnam War. Two years after promising the American people "peace with honor," Nixon was as entrenched in Vietnam as ever. His national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, saw a way out: Since China's break with the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s, the Chinese were desperate for new allies and trade partners. Kissinger aimed to use the promise of closer relations and increased trade possibilities with China as a way to put increased pressure on North Vietnam--a Chinese ally--to reach an acceptable peace settlement. Also, more importantly in the long run, Kissinger thought the Chinese might become a powerful ally against the Soviet Union, America’s Cold War enemy. Kissinger called such foreign policy 'realpolitik,' or politics that favored dealing with other powerful nations in a practical manner rather than on the basis of political doctrine or ethics.

Nixon undertook his historic "journey for peace" in 1972, beginning a long and gradual process of normalizing relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States. Though this move helped revive Nixon’s sagging popularity, and contributed to his win in the 1972 election, it did not produce the short-term results for which Kissinger had hoped. The Chinese seemed to have little influence on North Vietnam's negotiating stance, and the Vietnam War continued to drag on until U.S. withdrawal in 1973. Further, the budding U.S.-China alliance had no measurable impact on U.S.-Soviet relations. But, Nixon's visit did prove to be a watershed moment in American foreign policy--it paved the way for future U.S. presidents to apply the principle of realpolitik to their own international dealings.
15 July Deaths

1274 – Bonaventure, Italian bishop and saint (b. 1221)
1291 – Rudolph I of Germany (b. 1218)
1381 – John Ball, English priest (b. 1338)
1406 – William, Duke of Austria (b. 1370)
1410 – Ulrich von Jungingen, German knight (b. 1360)
1544 – René of Châlon (b. 1519)
1571 – Shimazu Takahisa, Japanese daimyo (b. 1514)
1609 – Annibale Carracci, Italian painter (b. 1560)
1614 – Pierre de Bourdeille, seigneur de Brantôme, French soldier, historian, and author (b. 1540)
1655 – Girolamo Rainaldi, Italian architect (b. 1570)
1685 – James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, Dutch-English general (b. 1649)
1750 – Vasily Tatishchev, Russian politician (b. 1686)
1765 – Charles-André van Loo, French painter (b. 1705)
1767 – Michael Bruce, Scottish poet (b. 1746)
1789 – Jacques Duphly, French harpsichord player and composer (b. 1715)
1828 – Jean-Antoine Houdon, French sculptor (b. 1741)
1839 – Winthrop Mackworth Praed, English poet and politician (b. 1802)
1844 – Claude Charles Fauriel, French philologist and historian (b. 1772)
1857 – Carl Czerny, Austrian pianist and composer (b. 1791)
1858 – Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, Russian painter (b. 1806)
1871 – Tad Lincoln, American son of Abraham Lincoln (b. 1853)
1885 – Rosalía de Castro, Spanish author and poet (b. 1837)
1890 – Gottfried Keller, Swiss poet (b. 1819)
1898 – Jean-Baptiste Salpointe, French-American archbishop (d. 1825)
1904 – Anton Chekhov, Russian physician and author (b. 1860)
1919 – Hermann Emil Fischer, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852)
1929 – Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Austrian author, poet, and playwright (b. 1874)
1930 – Leopold Auer, Hungarian violinist, composer, and conductor (b. 1845)
1930 – Rudolph Schildkraut, Turkish-American actor (b. 1862)
1931 – Ladislaus Bortkiewicz, Russian-German economist (b. 1868)
1931 – Eduardo Camet, Argentinian fencer (b. 1876)
1932 – Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven, South African politician (b. 1873)
1933 – Irving Babbitt, American academic and critic (b. 1865)
1933 – Freddie Keppard, American cornet player (b. 1890)
1940 – Eugen Bleuler, Swiss psychiatrist (b. 1857)
1940 – Donald Calthrop, English actor (b. 1888)
1940 – Robert Wadlow, American giant (b. 1918)
1942 – Wenceslao Vinzons, Filipino lawyer and politician (b. 1910)
1944 – Marie-Victorin Kirouac, Canadian botanist (b. 1885)
1946 – Razor Smith, English cricketer (b. 1877)
1947 – Walter Donaldson, American songwriter (b. 1893)
1948 – John J. Pershing, American general (b. 1860)
1953 – Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, Indian archbishop, founded the Order of the Imitation of Christ (b. 1882)
1957 – James M. Cox, American politician, 46th Governor of Ohio (b. 1870)
1957 – Vasily Maklakov, Russian lawyer and politician (b. 1869)
1958 – Julia Lennon, English mother of John Lennon (b. 1914)
1959 – Ernest Bloch, Swiss-American composer (b. 1880)
1959 – Vance Palmer, Australian author and critic (b. 1885)
1960 – Set Persson, Swedish politician (b. 1897)
1960 – Lawrence Tibbett, American singer and actor (b. 1896)
1961 – John Edward Brownlee, Canadian lawyer and politician, 5th Premier of Alberta (b. 1884)
1964 – Thomas Cooke, American soccer player (b. 1885)
1965 – Francis Cherry, American lawyer and politician, 35th Governor of Arkansas (b. 1908)
1974 – Christine Chubbuck, American journalist (b. 1944)
1976 – Paul Gallico, American journalist and author (b. 1897)
1977 – Donald Mackay, Australian activist (b. 1933)
1979 – Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Mexican politician, 29th President of Mexico (b. 1911)
1981 – Frédéric Dorion, Canadian politician (b. 1898)
1982 – Bill Justis, American saxophonist, songwriter, and producer (b. 1926)
1986 – Billy Haughton, American harness racer and trainer (b. 1923)
1988 – Eleanor Estes, American author (b. 1906)
1989 – Laurie Cunningham, English footballer (b. 1956)
1990 – Margaret Lockwood, English actress (b. 1916)
1991 – Bert Convy, American actor, singer, and game show host (b. 1933)
1992 – Hammer DeRoburt, Nauruan politician, 1st President of Nauru (b. 1922)
1992 – Chingiz Mustafayev, Azerbaijani journalist and author (b. 1960)
1993 – David Brian, American actor and dancer (b. 1914)
1993 – Bobby Kent, American murder victim (b. 1973)
1996 – Dana Hill, American actress and singer (b. 1964)
1997 – Justinas Lagunavičius, Lithuanian basketball player (b. 1924)
1997 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer, founded Versace (b. 1946)
1998 – S. Shanmuganathan, Sri Lankan politician (b. 1960)
2000 – Louis Quilico, Canadian opera singer (b. 1925)
2001 – C. Balasingham, Ceylon civil servant (b. 1917)
2003 – Roberto Bolaño, Chilean author and poet (b. 1953)
2003 – Tex Schramm, American businessman (b. 1920)
2003 – Elisabeth Welch, American actress and singer (b. 1904)
2006 – Robert H. Brooks, American businessman, founded of Hooters and Naturally Fresh, Inc. (b. 1937)
2006 – Alireza Shapour Shahbazi, Iranian archaeologist (b. 1942)
2008 – György Kolonics, Hungarian canoe racer (b. 1972)
2008 – Karl Unterkircher, Italian mountaineer (b. 1970)
2009 – Natalya Estemirova, Russian journalist and activist (b. 1958)
2010 – James E. Akins, American politician (b. 1926)
2011 – Googie Withers, Indian-English actress (b. 1917)
2012 – Boris Cebotari, Moldovan footballer (b. 1975)
2012 – Tsilla Chelton, French actress (b. 1919)
2012 – Grant Feasel, American football player (b. 1960)
2012 – Manuel Eguiguren Galarraga, Spanish bishop (b. 1930)
2012 – David Fraser, English general (b. 1920)
2012 – Celeste Holm, American actress and singer (b. 1917)
2012 – Yoichi Takabayashi, Japanese director and screenwriter (b. 1931)
2013 – Ninos Aho, Syrian poet (b. 1945)
2013 – Henry Braden, American lawyer and politician (b. 1944)
2013 – Aldo Calderón van Dyke, Honduran journalist (b. 1968)
2013 – Tom Greenwell, American judge (b. 1956)
2013 – Earl Gros, American football player (b. 1940)
2013 – Noël Lee, American pianist and composer (b. 1924)
2013 – Meskerem Legesse, Ethiopian runner (b. 1986)
2013 – John T. Riedl, American computer scientist (b. 1962)

Jul 15, 1979:
Jimmy Carter speaks about a national "crisis in confidence

On this day in 1979, President Jimmy Carter addresses the nation via live television to discuss the nation's energy crisis and accompanying recession.

Carter prefaced his talk about energy policy with an explanation of why he believed the American economy remained in crisis. He recounted a meeting he had hosted at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, with leaders in the fields of business, labor, education, politics and religion. Although the energy crisis and recession were the main topics of conversation, Carter heard from the attendees that Americans were also suffering from a deeper moral and spiritual crisis. This lack of "moral and spiritual confidence," he concluded, was at the core of America's inability to hoist itself out of its economic troubles. He also admitted that part of the problem was his failure to provide strong leadership on many issues, particularly energy and oil consumption.

In 1979, America could still feel the effects of OPEC's (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) 1973 cuts in oil production. Carter quoted one of the Camp David meeting participants as saying that America's "neck is stretched over the fence and OPEC has a knife." In addition, inflation had reached an all-time high during Carter's term. Americans saw the federal government as a bloated bureaucracy that had become stagnant and was failing to serve the people. Politics, Carter said, was full of corruption, inefficiency and evasiveness; he claimed these problems grew out of a deeper, "fundamental threat to American democracy." He was not referring to challenges to civil liberties or the country's political structure or military prowess, however, but to what he called a "crisis of confidence" that led to domestic turmoil and "the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation."

At a time when Europeans and the Japanese began out-producing the U.S. in energy-efficient automobiles and some other advanced technologies, Carter said that Americans had lost faith in being the world's leader in "progress." He claimed that Americans obsession with self-indulgence and material goods had trumped spiritualism and community values. Carter, who after the presidency would teach Sunday School, tried to rally the public to have faith in the future of America. After restoring faith in itself, the nation would be able to march on to the "the battlefield of energy [where] we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny."

Carter then launched into his energy policy plans, which included the implementation of mandatory conservation efforts for individuals and businesses and deep cuts in the nation's dependence on foreign oil through import quotas. He also pledged a "massive commitment of funds and resources" to develop alternative fuel sources including coal, plant products and solar power. He outlined the creation of a "solar bank" that he said would eventually supply 20 percent of the nation's energy. To jumpstart this program, Carter asked Congress to form an "energy mobilization board" modeled after the War Production Board of World War II, and asked the legislature to enact a "windfall profits tax" immediately to fight inflation and unemployment.

Carter ended by asking for input from average citizens to help him devise an energy agenda for the 1980s. Carter, a liberal president, was heading into a presidential campaign just as a tide of conservatism was rising, led by presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan, who went on to win the 1980 campaign.

Jul 15, 1986:
Columbia Records drops country legend Johnny Cash after 26 years

The critically acclaimed 2002 biopic Walk The Line depicts the life and career of Johnny Cash from his initial rise to stardom in the 1950s to his resurgence following a drug-fueled decline in the 1960s. The selection of this time span made perfect sense from a Hollywood perspective, but from a historical perspective, it left out more than half of the story. There was still another dramatic resurgence to come in the second half of Johnny Cash's 50-year career, which reached another low point on this day in 1986, when Columbia Records dropped him from its roster after 26 years of history-making partnership.

Columbia first signed Johnny Cash in 1960, using a lucrative contract to lure him away from his Sun Records, his first label and also the early home of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Cash's first Columbia single, "All Over Again," made the country Top 5, and his second, "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" made it all the way to #1, while also crossing over to the pop Top 40. But the biggest hits of Cash's career were yet to come, including an incredible eight #1 albums in an eight-year span: Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash (1963); I Walk The Line (1964); Johnny Cash's Greatest Hits (1967); At Folsom Prison (1968); At San Quentin (1969); Hello, I'm Johnny Cash (1970); The Johnny Cash Show (1970); and Man In Black (1971). During this period, Johnny Cash established himself as a titanic figure in American popular culture while selling millions upon millions of records for Columbia, but by the mid-1980s, fashions in country music had shifted dramatically away from his old-school style, and the hits simply stopped coming.

In 1986, having also recently dropped jazz legend Miles Davis from its roster of artists, Columbia chose to end its no-longer-profitable relationship with Johnny Cash. Cash did not remain professionally adrift for long, however, releasing four original albums and numerous re-recordings of earlier material over the next seven years on Mercury Records. But it was not until 1994 that Cash truly found his creative bearings again. That was the year that he released the album American Recordings, the first in a series of albums on the label of the same name headed by Rick Rubin, the original producer of the Beastie Boys and the co-founder, with Russell Simmons, of Def Jam Records.

Under Rubin's influence, Cash moved to a raw, stripped-down sound that proved to be enormously successful with critics, with country traditionalists and with hipster newcomers to country music. When his second Rubin-produced album, Unchained, won a Grammy for Best Country Album in 1998, American Recordings placed a full-page ad in Billboard magazine featuring a 1970 photo of Cash brandishing his middle finger under the sarcastic line of copy, "American Recordings and Johnny Cash would like to acknowledge the Nashville music establishment and country radio for your support."

Johnny Cash went on to have two more massively successful solo albums with American Recordings prior to his death in 2003. Rick Rubin went on to become co-head of Columbia Records in 2007.

Jul 15, 1988:
Die Hard debuts, makes Bruce Willis a movie star

On this day in 1988, Die Hard, an action film starring Bruce Willis as wisecracking New York City cop John McClane, opens in theaters across the United States. A huge box-office hit, the film established Willis as a movie star and spawned three sequels. Die Hard also became Hollywood shorthand for describing the plot of other actions films, as in “Speed is Die Hard on a bus.”

Based on Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard follows McClane as he goes to meet his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) at her company’s holiday party in a Los Angeles office building. When the building is taken over by a band of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), McClane must single-handedly fight off the bad guys. As played by Willis, McClane was notable as a new type of action hero--funny and flawed. The film, which was directed by John McTiernan (The Hunt for Red October, Last Action Hero), received four Oscar nominations, for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Effects Editing.

Willis, who was born March 19, 1955, and grew up in New Jersey, first rose to fame with the romantic comedy/detective drama TV series Moonlighting (1985-1989), in which he played smart-aleck private eye David Addison, who ran a detective agency with ex-model Maddie Hayes, played by Cybill Shepherd. After the success of Die Hard, Willis, emerged as one of Hollywood’s top leading men. In addition to starring in three Die Hard sequels: Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007), Willis racked up a long list of movie credits, including roles in Pulp Fiction (1994), Twelve Monkeys (1995) and Armageddon (1998). In 1999, he co-starred in The Sixth Sense (1999), an Oscar-nominated horror film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film was a huge commercial and critical success and became famous for the line “I see dead people.” Willis also starred in Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable.

From 1987 to 2000, Willis was married to Demi Moore, who also emerged as an A-list star in the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in high-profile films such as St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), Ghost (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Striptease (1996) and G.I. Jane (1997). Willis and Moore have three daughters together and remain friends after their divorce, frequently making public appearances together with Moore’s second husband, actor Ashton Kutcher.

Jul 15, 1997:
Versace murdered in Cunanan killing spree

Spree killer Andrew Cunanan murders world-renowned Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace on the steps outside his Miami mansion. Versace was shot twice in the head, and Cunanan fled.

Andrew Cunanan had no criminal record before the spring of 1997, when he began a killing spree in Minneapolis. On April 27, 1997, after traveling from San Diego, Cunanan bludgeoned Jeffrey Trail to death. Trail was an acquaintance of David Madson, an ex-lover of Cunanan's whom Cunanan in turn murdered on May 3. Cunanan shot Madson in the head, dumped his body near a lake outside Minneapolis, and took his red Jeep Cherokee. Two days later, in Chicago, he gained access to the estate of wealthy developer Lee Miglin, beat him to death, and stole his Lexus. On May 9, Cunanan abandoned Miglin's automobile in Pennsville, New Jersey, and shot cemetery caretaker William Reese to death for his red pickup truck.

With a massive FBI manhunt for Cunanan already underway, he drove down to Miami Beach and on July 11 was recognized by a fast-food employee who had seen his picture on the television show America's Most Wanted. However, the police arrived too late, and four days later Cunanan shot Versace to death outside his South Beach mansion. Although Cunanan and Versace were both openly gay and ran in similar circles, the police failed to find evidence that they had ever met.

Versace's killing set off a nationwide manhunt for Cunanan, who was famous for his chameleon-like ability to appear differently in every picture taken of him. However, on July 23, the search ended just 40 blocks away from Versace's home on a two-level houseboat that Cunanan had broken into. There, police found him dead from a self-inflicted bullet wound from the same gun that took the lives of two of his victims. He left no suicide note.

Jul 15, 2002:
John Walker Lindh accepts plea bargain

On this day in 2002, John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," accepts a plea-bargain deal in which he pleads guilty to one count of supplying services to the Taliban and carrying weapons. Under the terms of the deal, Walker Lindh agreed to serve 20 years in prison and cooperate with the American government in their investigation into the terrorist group al Qaeda. In return, all other charges against him were dropped, including one count of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals.

The previous year, Walker Lindh, an American citizen, gained infamy across the country when he was found by U.S. forces in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion that followed the September 11th attacks. It was soon found that Lindh had served as a Taliban solider. He was one of only about 80 prisoners to survive a prison uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif that had been put down by a combination of Northern Alliance and U.S. troops. Hundreds of prisoners, as well as a C.I.A. agent named Johnny Spann, were killed in the riot.

John Walker Lindh was born outside of Washington, D.C., and moved to Marin County, an affluent San Francisco suburb, when he was 10 years old. A precocious student, he attended Tamiscal High School, an elite alternative institution where students design their own curriculum. He performed well academically and was said to have a talent for languages and music. He reports becoming interested in Islam as an adolescent after learning about the life of Malcolm X. At 16, he converted to Islam. He soon began using the name "Suleyman," wearing traditional Muslim dress, and attending services at a local mosque. In July 1998, he traveled to Yemen to learn Arabic. It was the beginning of a journey that would land him in the custody of U.S. Special Forces.

After returning to California briefly in February 2000, Walker Lindh again left for Yemen. Eight months later in October 2000, he traveled to Pakistan to study at a madrasah, a fundamentalist Islamic school. While at the school, he became interested in the Muslim struggle against the Indian government in the disputed Kashmir region. He joined a radical Islamic group and underwent military training, but left when he became disenchanted with the cause. It was then that the Taliban–the notorious ultra-conservative Islamist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1998 to 2001–caught his attention. "I was in [Pakistan's] Northwest Frontier Province. The people there in general have a great love for the Taliban. So I started to read some of the literature of the scholars and my heart became attached to it. I wanted to help them one way or another." Walker Lindh became so enamored with the Taliban cause that he asked to join them.

Because he spoke Arabic but not any local Afghan language, Walker Lindh was assigned to al Qaeda, an Arab group in league with the Taliban, and attended their al Farooq training camp two hours outside of the Afghan city of Kandahar. His training included lessons on weapons, maps, battlefields, and explosives. He also briefly met and says he was "thanked" by Osama bin Laden for his service. After training, he was sent to the front lines of the Taliban's battle with the Northern Alliance for control of the country. When the U.S. invaded, Walker Lindh walked 100 miles to the town of Konduz, where he and about 3,000 other Taliban fighters were taken prisoner and sent to Mazar-e-Sharif.

Walker Lindh spent three weeks holed up in the prison's basement with other Taliban detainees before giving himself up on November 29. He was held on the Navy ship USS Bataan before being transferred to Kandahar and eventually to the United States.

As part of his plea agreement, Walker Lindh would be tried as an enemy combatant if he were ever again found to be associating with terrorists. In the meantime, he pledged to continue to study Islam and the Koran while in jail.

Jul 15, 2003:
Tex Schramm dies

On this day in 2003, former Dallas Cowboys General Manager Tex Schramm dies at the age of 83. Schramm served as the architect of 30 Cowboys teams, from the franchise’s inception as an NFL expansion team in 1960 until 1989, when owner Burn Bright sold the team to oil billionaire Jerry Jones. Under Schramm’s stewardship, the Cowboys won five NFC titles and two Super Bowl championships.

Contrary to his nickname, Tex Schramm was born and raised in Southern California. He played high school football in his home state before moving to Austin to study journalism at the University of Texas. After graduation, he took a job as public relations director for the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams had moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles in 1945, and had been the first team to integrate the segregated NFL that same year, with the signing of Kenny Washington and Woody Strode out of UCLA. After being promoted to general manager of the Rams in 1949, Schramm signed the first player from a historically black college, Tank Younger out of Grambling. In 1950, Schramm selected the first African American in NFL draft history, Dan Towler from Washington and Jefferson.

In 1960, after three years working in television, Schramm was hired as general manager of the expansion Dallas Cowboys. His philosophy centered on building a team through the draft, and in 1961, he began by selecting Bob Lilly, a defensive tackle who went on to anchor Dallas’ feared "Doomsday Defense" from 1961 to 1974. In 1963, Schramm drafted Lee Roy Jordan to play linebacker behind Lilly, and the next year chose defensive back Mel Renfro; wide receiver "Bullet" Bob Hayes; and, last but not least, quarterback Roger "The Dodger" Staubach out of the Naval Academy. With a strong foundation in place and legendary coach Tom Landry at the helm, the Cowboys managed winning seasons every year from 1966 to 1985. In the process, they became "America’s Team," beloved by fans across the country.

As head of the NFL’s competition committee, Schramm teamed with the American Football League’s Lamar Hunt to unite the NFL and AFL, first with a Super Bowl played between the champions of the two leagues after the 1966 season and finally with a complete merger in 1970. He also instituted microphones for referees, flags in the end zone to judge the direction of the wind and instant replay to ensure that calls were made correctly.

Upon Schramm’s death, no less an authority than former Dolphins Coach Don Shula told the Associated Press that Schramm had "as much or more to do with the success of professional football as anyone who has ever been connected with the league."
16 July Events

622 – The beginning of the Islamic calendar.
1054 – Three Roman legates break relations between Western and Eastern Christian Churches through the act of placing an invalidly-issued Papal bull of Excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia during Saturday afternoon divine liturgy. Historians frequently describe the event as the start of the East–West Schism.
1212 – Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa: after Pope Innocent III calls European knights to a crusade, forces of Kings Alfonso VIII of Castile, Sancho VII of Navarre, Peter II of Aragon and Afonso II of Portugal defeat those of the Berber Muslim leader Almohad, thus marking a significant turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain.
1377 – Coronation of Richard II of England.
1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco.
1683 – Manchu Qing Dynasty naval forces under traitorous commander Shi Lang defeat the Kingdom of Tungning in the Battle of Penghu near the Pescadores Islands.
1769 – Father Junípero Serra founds California's first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Over the following decades, it evolves into the city of San Diego, California.
1779 – American Revolutionary War: light infantry of the Continental Army seize a fortified British Army position in a midnight bayonet attack at the Battle of Stony Point.
1782 – First performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act.
1809 – The city of La Paz, in what is today Bolivia, declares its independence from the Spanish Crown during the La Paz revolution and forms the Junta Tuitiva, the first independent government in Spanish America, led by Pedro Domingo Murillo.
1849 – Antonio María Claret y Clará founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, popularly known as the Claretians in Vic, in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
1861 – American Civil War: at the order of President Abraham Lincoln, Union troops begin a 25 mile march into Virginia for what will become the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the war.
1862 – American Civil War: David Farragut is promoted to rear admiral, becoming the first officer in United States Navy to hold an admiral rank.
1909 – Persian Constitutional Revolution: Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar is forced out as Shah of Persia and is replaced by his son Ahmad Shah Qajar.
1910 – John Robertson Duigan makes the first flight of the Duigan pusher biplane, the first aircraft built in Australia.
1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen, to highlight his commitment to England during the first World War.
1915 – First Order of the Arrow ceremony takes place and the Order of the Arrow is founded.
1927 – Augusto César Sandino leads a raid on U.S. Marines and Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional that had been sent to apprehend him in the village of Ocotal, but is repulsed by one of the first dive-bombing attacks in history.
1931 – Emperor Haile Selassie I signs the first constitution of Ethiopia.
1935 – The world's first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1941 – Joe DiMaggio hits safely for the 56th consecutive game, a streak that still stands as a MLB record.
1942 – Holocaust: Vel' d'Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel' d'Hiv): the government of Vichy France orders the mass arrest of 13,152 Jews who are held at the Winter Velodrome in Paris before deportation to Auschwitz.
1945 – World War II: The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis leaves San Francisco with parts for the atomic bomb "Little Boy" bound for Tinian Island.
1945 – Manhattan Project: the Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
1948 – Following token resistance, the city of Nazareth, revered by Christians as the hometown of Jesus, capitulates to Israeli troops during Operation Dekel in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
1948 – The storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane.
1950 – Chaplain–Medic massacre: American POWs were massacred by North Korean Army.
1951 – King Leopold III of Belgium abdicates in favor of his son, Baudouin I of Belgium.
1951 – The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is published for the first time by Little, Brown and Company.
1956 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closes its very last "Big Tent" show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, due to changing economics all subsequent circus shows will be held in arenas.
1960 – USS George Washington a modified Skipjack class submarine successfully test fires the first ballistic missile while submerged.
1965 – The Mont Blanc Tunnel linking France and Italy opens.
1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11, the first mission to land astronauts on the Moon, is launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
1973 – Watergate scandal: former White House aide Alexander Butterfield informs the United States Senate that President Richard Nixon had secretly recorded potentially incriminating conversations.
1979 – Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns and is replaced by Saddam Hussein.
1981 – Mahathir Mohamad becomes Malaysia's 4th Prime Minister.
1983 – Sikorsky S-61 disaster: a helicopter crashes off the Isles of Scilly, causing 20 fatalities.
1990 – The Luzon Earthquake strikes in Benguet, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, La Union, Aurora, Bataan, Zambales and Tarlac, Philippines, with an intensity of 7.7.
1990 – The Parliament of the Ukrainian SSR declares state sovereignty over the territory of the Ukrainian SSR.
1994 – Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 collides with Jupiter. Impacts continue until July 22.
1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr., piloting a Piper Saratoga aircraft, dies when his plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. His wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are also killed.
2004 – Millennium Park, considered Chicago, Illinois's first and most ambitious early 21st-century architectural project, is opened to the public by Mayor Richard M. Daley.
2007 – An earthquake of magnitude 6.8 and 6.6 aftershock occurs off the Niigata coast of Japan killing eight people, injuring at least 800 and damaging a nuclear power plant.
2008 – Sixteen infants in Gansu Province, China, who had been fed on tainted milk powder, are diagnosed with kidney stones; in total an estimated 300,000 infants are affected.
2013 – At least 23 children die at a school in Bihar, India, after consuming food tainted with organophosphorus compounds.

Jul 16, 1769:
First Catholic mission in California dedicated

Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, founds the first Catholic mission in California on the site of present-day San Diego. After Serra blessed his new outpost of Christianity in a high mass, the royal standard of Spain was unfurled over the mission, which he named San Diego de Alcala.

Serra came to Spanish America in 1750 and served in the Sierra Gorda missions and then in south-central Mexico. A successful missionary, he was appointed a member of the second Spanish land expedition to Alta California in 1769. When the party reached San Diego, Serra remained with a few followers to found California's first mission. The rest of the expedition continued on in search of Monterrey harbor, which had been previously used by Spanish sailors. Although the explorers failed in their aim, Serra succeeded in finding Monterrey in 1770, and there he founded his second mission--San Carlos Barromeo.

Appointed president of the Alta California presidios, Serra eventually founded a total of nine missions, stretching from San Diego to present-day San Francisco. The Franciscan fathers built large communities around their missions, teaching Christianized Native Americans to farm and tend cattle, and directing their work. These agricultural communities enjoyed a considerable autonomy from first the Spanish colonial authorities and then the Mexican government, but with the coming of the Americans in the mid-19th century most were abandoned.

Jul 16, 1779:
Anthony Wayne earns nickname

On this day in 1779, American Brigadier General Anthony Wayne launches a coup de main against British fortifications at Stony Point, New York, on the orders of General George Washington. He earns the moniker "Mad" Anthony Wayne for the ensuing maneuver.

The British fort on the cliffs at Stony Point overlooking the Hudson River threatened West Point, which was only 12 miles upriver. Wayne, at the head of 1,200 light infantry, successfully assaulted what the British believed was an impregnable position, losing only 15 killed and 83 wounded while the British lost 94 killed and wounded and 472 captured. Remarkably, the attack took place under cover of darkness, employed only bayonets as weaponry and lasted a mere 30 minutes. Two days later, Wayne, now dubbed "mad" for his enthusiastic and successful undertaking of a mission that had seemed doomed to failure, destroyed the fortifications and evacuated the area. Congress rewarded Wayne's efforts with a medal.

Much of Wayne's ensuing career involved divesting Native Americans of their land. Following the victory at Yorktown, Wayne traveled to Georgia, where he negotiated treaties with the Creeks and Cherokees. They paid dearly in land for their decision to side with the British, and Georgia paid Wayne in land—giving him a large plantation—for his efforts on their behalf. In 1794, President George Washington called upon Wayne to bring the ongoing violence with British-backed Indians in the Northwest Territory to a close. Wayne was victorious at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, near what is now Toledo, Ohio, and gained much of what would become Ohio and Indiana for the U.S. in the Treaty of Greenville.

Jul 16, 1790:
Congress declares Washington, D.C., new capital

On this day in 1790, the young American Congress declares that a swampy, humid, muddy and mosquito-infested site on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia will be the nation's permanent capital. "Washington," in the newly designated federal "District of Columbia," was named after the leader of the American Revolution and the country's first president: George Washington. It was Washington who saw the area's potential economic and accessibility benefits due to the proximity of navigable rivers.

George Washington, who had been in office just over a year when the capital site was determined, asked a French architect and city planner named Pierre L Enfant to design the capital. In 1793, the first cornerstones of the president's mansion, which was eventually renamed the "White House," were laid. George Washington, however, never lived in the mansion as it was not inhabitable until 1800. Instead, President John Adams and his wife Abigail were the White House's first residents. They lived there less than a year; Thomas Jefferson moved in in 1801.

Jul 16, 1808:
Lewis and Clark help form Missouri Fur Company

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, two of the few white men who had actually seen the mysterious territory of the Far West, help form a new company to exploit the region's abundant fur-bearing animals.

In September 1806, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis completed their epic journey to the Pacific Ocean, arriving back in St. Louis after more than two years in the western wilderness. Except for the difficult crossing of the Rocky Mountains, the expedition team had traveled by river. On the journey, they were overwhelmed by the abundance for beaver, otter, and other fur-bearing creatures they saw. The territory was ripe for fur trapping, they reported to President Thomas Jefferson.

Both Lewis and Clark recognized that sizeable fortunes could be made in fur trapping, and they were not averse to using their exclusive knowledge to gain a share of the profits. Two years after their return, Lewis and Clark helped organize the St. Louis Missouri River Fur Company. Among their partners were the experienced fur traders and businessmen Manuel Lisa, Pierre Choteau, and Auguste Choteau.

Lewis, whom Jefferson had already appointed to the governorship of Louisiana Territory, was presumably a silent partner, and for good reason. The new company planned to mix public and private interests in potentially unethical ways. During their earlier voyage west, Lewis and Clark had convinced an Upper-Missouri River Mandan Indian named Big White to go east and meet President Jefferson. Lewis had promised Big White that the American government would later return him to his people. Now the St. Louis Missouri River Fur Company proposed to use public money to mount a private expedition to take Big White home in the spring of 1809. Once Big White was home safely, however, the expedition would continue on to begin fur trading on the Yellowstone River, where it would enjoy a monopoly guaranteed by Governor Lewis.

In May 1809, the hybrid public-private expedition headed up the Missouri River. The men safely returned Big White to his home and inaugurated a fairly successful fur trading operation. Whatever questions there might have been about Governor Lewis' conflicting interests in the company soon became moot: He either killed himself or was murdered on October 11, 1809, while traveling on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. Clark continued to be involved with the company for several years, and no one ever raised questions about the ethics of his participation. Standards of behavior were often lax on the frontier, and it was not unusual for private and governmental interests to become confused. For all but the most critical observer, Clark's actions would have been acceptable. The St. Louis Missouri River Fur Company the two men helped create endured until 1825 and was instrumental in furthering the exploration and settlement of the Far West.

Jul 16, 1863:
Draft riots continue to rock New York City

The draft riots enter their fourth day in New York City in response to the Enrollment Act, which was enacted on March 3, 1863. Although avoiding military service became much more difficult, wealthier citizens could still pay a commutation fee of $300 to stay at home. Irritation with the draft dovetailed with opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation of September 1862, which made abolition of slavery the central goal of the war for the Union. Particularly vocal in their opposition were the Democratic Irish, who felt the war was being forced upon them by Protestant Republicans and feared that emancipation of slaves would jeopardize their jobs. Their fears were confirmed when black laborers replaced striking Irish dock workers the month before the riots.

Discontent simmered until the draft began among the Irish New Yorkers on July 11. Two days later, a mob burned the draft office, triggering nearly five days of violence. At first, the targets included local newspapers, wealthy homes, well-dressed men, and police officers, but the crowd's attention soon turned to African Americans. Several blacks were lynched, and businesses employing blacks were burned. A black orphanage was also burned, but the children escaped.

Not until July 17 was the violence contained by the arrival of Union troops, some fresh from the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. More than 1,000 people died and property damage topped $2 million. The draft was temporarily suspended, and a revised conscription began in August. As a result of the riots and the delicate political balance in the city, relatively few New Yorkers were forced to serve in the Union army.

Jul 16, 1918:
Romanov family executed

In Yekaterinburg, Russia, Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed by the Bolsheviks, bringing an end to the three-century-old Romanov dynasty.

Crowned in 1896, Nicholas was neither trained nor inclined to rule, which did not help the autocracy he sought to preserve among a people desperate for change. The disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War led to the Russian Revolution of 1905, which ended only after Nicholas approved a representative assembly--the Duma--and promised constitutional reforms. The czar soon retracted these concessions and repeatedly dissolved the Duma when it opposed him, contributing to the growing public support for the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary groups. In 1914, Nicholas led his country into another costly war--World War I--that Russia was ill-prepared to win. Discontent grew as food became scarce, soldiers became war weary and devastating defeats at the hands of Germany demonstrated the ineffectiveness of Russia under Nicholas.

In March 1917, revolution broke out on the streets of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) and Nicholas was forced to abdicate his throne later that month. That November, the radical socialist Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized power in Russia from the provisional government, sued for peace with the Central Powers and set about establishing the world's first communist state. Civil war broke out in Russia in June 1918, and in July the anti-Bolshevik "White" Russian forces advanced on Yekaterinburg, where Nicholas and his family were located, during a campaign against the Bolshevik forces. Local authorities were ordered to prevent a rescue of the Romanovs, and after a secret meeting of the Yekaterinburg Soviet, a death sentence was passed on the imperial family.

Late on the night of July 16, Nicholas, Alexandra, their five children and four servants were ordered to dress quickly and go down to the cellar of the house in which they were being held. There, the family and servants were arranged in two rows for a photograph they were told was being taken to quell rumors that they had escaped. Suddenly, a dozen armed men burst into the room and gunned down the imperial family in a hail of gunfire. Those who were still breathing when the smoked cleared were stabbed to death.

The remains of Nicholas, Alexandra and three of their children were excavated in a forest near Yekaterinburg in 1991 and positively identified two years later using DNA fingerprinting. The Crown Prince Alexei and one Romanov daughter were not accounted for, fueling the persistent legend that Anastasia, the youngest Romanov daughter, had survived the execution of her family. Of the several "Anastasias" that surfaced in Europe in the decade after the Russian Revolution, Anna Anderson, who died in the United States in 1984, was the most convincing. In 1994, however, scientists used DNA to prove that Anna Anderson was not the czar's daughter but a Polish woman named Franziska Schanzkowska.

Jul 16, 1935:
World's first parking meter installed

The world's first parking meter, known as Park-O-Meter No. 1, is installed on the southeast corner of what was then First Street and Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on this day in 1935.

The parking meter was the brainchild of a man named Carl C. Magee, who moved to Oklahoma City from New Mexico in 1927. Magee had a colorful past: As a reporter for an Albuquerque newspaper, he had played a pivotal role in uncovering the so-called Teapot Dome Scandal (named for the Teapot Dome oil field in Wyoming), in which Albert B. Fall, then-secretary of the interior, was convicted of renting government lands to oil companies in return for personal loans and gifts. He also wrote a series of articles exposing corruption in the New Mexico court system, and was tried and acquitted of manslaughter after he shot at one of the judges targeted in the series during an altercation at a Las Vegas hotel.

By the time Magee came to Oklahoma City to start a newspaper, the Oklahoma News, his new hometown shared a common problem with many of America's urban areas--a lack of sufficient parking space for the rapidly increasingly number of automobiles crowding into the downtown business district each day. Asked to find a solution to the problem, Magee came up with the Park-o-Meter. The first working model went on public display in early May 1935, inspiring immediate debate over the pros and cons of coin-regulated parking. Indignant opponents of the meters considered paying for parking un-American, as it forced drivers to pay what amounted to a tax on their cars, depriving them of their money without due process of law.

Despite such opposition, the first meters were installed by the Dual Parking Meter Company beginning in July 1935; they cost a nickel an hour, and were placed at 20-foot intervals along the curb that corresponded to spaces painted on the pavement. Magee's invention caught on quickly: Retailers loved the meters, as they encouraged a quick turnover of cars--and potential customers--and drivers were forced to accept them as a practical necessity for regulating parking. By the early 1940s, there were more than 140,000 parking meters operating in the United States. Today, Park-O-Meter No. 1 is on display in the Statehood Gallery of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
16 July Births

1194 – Clare of Assisi, Italian saint (d. 1253)
1486 – Andrea del Sarto, Italian painter (d. 1530)
1611 – Cecilia Renata of Austria (d. 1644)
1661 – Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, Canadian captain, explorer and politician (d. 1706)
1714 – Marc René, marquis de Montalembert, French engineer and author (d. 1800)
1722 – Joseph Wilton, English sculptor (d. 1803)
1723 – Joshua Reynolds, English painter (d. 1792)
1731 – Samuel Huntington, American politician, 18th Governor of Connecticut (d. 1796)
1749 – Cyrus Griffin, American politician, 16th President of the Continental Congress (d. 1810)
1796 – Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, French painter (d. 1875)
1821 – Mary Baker Eddy, American religious leader and author, founded Christian Science (d. 1910)
1841 – Nikolai von Glehn, Baltic German landowner and activist (d. 1923)
1858 – Eugène Ysaÿe, Belgian violinist, composer, and conductor (d. 1931)
1862 – Ida B. Wells, American journalist and activist (d. 1931)
1870 – Lambert McKenna, Irish priest and scholar (d. 1956)
1871 – John Maxwell, American golfer (d. 1906)
1872 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer (d. 1928)
1875 – Emil Voigt, American gymnast (d. 1961)
1880 – Kathleen Norris, American author (d. 1966)
1883 – Charles Sheeler, American photographer and painter (d. 1965)
1884 – Anna Vyrubova, Russian author (d. 1964)
1887 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (d. 1951)
1888 – Percy Kilbride, American actor (d. 1964)
1888 – Frits Zernike, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1966)
1889 – Arthur Bowie Chrisman, American author (d. 1953)
1889 – Larry Semon, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1928)
1895 – Wilfrid Hamel, Canadian politician, 35th Mayor of Quebec City (d. 1968)
1896 – Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, German biologist and eugenicist (d. 1969)
1896 – Trygve Lie, Norwegian politician, 1st Secretary-General of the United Nations (d. 1968)
1896 – Evelyn Preer, American actress and singer (d. 1932)
1902 – Alexander Luria, Russian psychologist (d. 1977)
1902 – Mary Philbin, American actress (d. 1993)
1903 – Fritz Bauer, German judge (d. 1968)
1903 – Carmen Lombardo, Canadian singer-songwriter (d. 1971)
1904 – Goffredo Petrassi, Italian composer and conductor (d. 2003)
1906 – Vincent Sherman, American actor, director and screenwriter (d. 2006)
1907 – Frances Horwich, American educator and television host (d. 2001)
1907 – Orville Redenbacher, American farmer and businessman, founded Orville Redenbacher's (d. 1995)
1907 – Barbara Stanwyck, American actress and singer (d. 1990)
1910 – Stan McCabe, Australian cricketer (d. 1968)
1910 – Gordon Prange, American author (d. 1980)
1911 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1995)
1911 – Sonny Tufts, American actor (d. 1970)
1912 – Milt Bocek, American baseball player (d. 2007)
1915 – Barnard Hughes, American actor (d. 2006)
1918 – Bayani Casimiro, Filipino dancer and actor (d. 1989)
1919 – Hermine Braunsteiner, Austrian SS officer (d. 1999)
1919 – Choi Kyu-hah, South Korean politician, 4th President of South Korea (d. 2006)
1920 – Anatole Broyard, American critic and author (d. 1990)
1920 – Anwar Hussain, Pakistani cricketer (d. 2002)
1923 – Chris Argyris, American academic and theorist
1924 – Bess Myerson, American model, Miss America 1945
1925 – Frank Jobe, American surgeon (d. 2014)
1925 – Cal Tjader, American vibraphone player and composer (d. 1982)
1926 – Ivica Horvat, Croatian footballer and manager (d. 2012)
1926 – Irwin Rose, American biologist, Nobel Prize laureate
1927 – Pierre F. Côté, Canadian lawyer and civil servant (d. 2013)
1927 – John Warr, English cricketer
1928 – Anita Brookner, English author
1928 – Robert Sheckley, American author (d. 2005)
1928 – Bella Davidovich, Azerbaijani-American pianist
1928 – Dave Treen, American politician, 51st Governor of Louisiana (d. 2009)
1928 – Ticho Parly, Danish tenor (d. 1993)
1928 – Andrzej Zawada, Polish mountaineer (d. 2000)
1929 – Charles Ray Hatcher, American serial killer (d. 1984)
1929 – Sheri S. Tepper, American author
1930 – Guy Béart, Egyptian-French singer-songwriter
1930 – Michael Bilirakis, American lawyer and politician
1932 – Max McGee, American football player and sportscaster (d. 2007)
1932 – Dick Thornburgh, American lawyer and politician, 76th United States Attorney General
1934 – Donald M. Payne, American politician (d. 2012)
1935 – Carl Epting Mundy, Jr., American general (d. 2014)
1936 – Yasuo Fukuda, Japanese politician, 91st Prime Minister of Japan
1936 – Buddy Merrill, American guitarist
1936 – Jerry Norman, American sinologist and linguist (d. 2012)
1936 – Venkataraman Subramanya, Indian cricketer
1937 – Richard Bryan, American lawyer and politician, 25th Governor of Nevada
1937 – John Daly, English director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2008)
1938 – Cynthia Enloe, American feminist writer
1938 – Tony Jackson, English singer and bass player (The Searchers) (d. 2003)
1939 – William Bell, American singer
1939 – Denise LaSalle, American singer-songwriter and producer
1939 – Shringar Nagaraj, Indian actor and producer (d. 2013)
1939 – Corin Redgrave, English actor and activist (d. 2010)
1939 – Mariele Ventre, Italian singer and conductor (d. 1995)
1941 – Desmond Dekker, Jamaican singer-songwriter (d. 2006)
1941 – Mišo Kovač, Croatian singer
1941 – Dag Solstad, Norwegian author and playwright
1941 – Hans Wiegel, Dutch politician, Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1942 – Margaret Court, Australian tennis player and minister
1943 – Reinaldo Arenas, Cuban poet (d. 1990)
1943 – Martin Huba, Slovak actor and director
1943 – Jimmy Johnson, American football player and coach
1944 – Angharad Rees, English actress (d. 2012)
1946 – Louise Fréchette, Canadian diplomat and civil servant, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
1946 – Toshio Furukawa, Japanese voice actor
1946 – Barbara Lee, American politician
1946 – Richard LeParmentier, American-English actor (d. 2013)
1946 – Ron Yary, American football player
1947 – Alexis Herman, American politician, 23rd United States Secretary of Labor
1947 – Assata Shakur, American criminal and activist
1948 – Rubén Blades, Panamanian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor
1948 – Pierre Koffmann, French-English chef
1948 – Lars Lagerbäck, Swedish footballer and manager
1948 – Kevin McKenzie, South African cricketer
1948 – Pinchas Zukerman, Israeli violinist and conductor
1950 – Pierre Paradis, Canadian lawyer and politician
1950 – Dennis Priestley, English darts player
1950 – Tom Terrell, American journalist (d. 2007)
1951 – Jean-Luc Mongrain, Canadian journalist
1952 – Stewart Copeland, American drummer (The Police, Animal Logic, Curved Air and Oysterhead)
1952 – Richard Egielski, American author and illustrator
1952 – Marc Esposito, French director and screenwriter
1952 – Momir Karadžić, Serbian footballer
1952 – Ken McEwan, South African cricketer
1952 – Robert David Steele, American spy
1953 – Douglas J. Feith, American politician
1954 – Jeanette Mott Oxford, American politician
1955 – Susan Wheeler, American poet
1955 – Annie Whitehead, English trombone player
1955 – Zohar Argov, Israeli singer (d. 1987)
1956 – Jerry Doyle, American radio host and actor
1956 – Tony Kushner, American playwright and screenwriter
1957 – Faye Grant, American actress
1957 – Alexandra Marinina, Russian author
1958 – Michael Flatley, American dancer, choreographer, and actor
1958 – Pierre Roland Renoir, Canadian painter
1958 – Mike D. Rogers, American politician
1959 – Gary Anderson, American football player
1959 – Doug Herzog, American businessman
1959 – Zoran Jolevski, Macedonian diplomat, Macedonian Ambassador to the United States
1959 – Jürgen Ligi, Estonian politician
1960 – Terry Pendleton, American baseball player and coach
1963 – Phoebe Cates, American actress
1963 – Srečko Katanec, Slovenian footballer and coach
1964 – Phil Hellmuth, American poker player
1964 – Miguel Indurain, Spanish cyclist
1965 – Michel Desjoyeaux, French sailor
1965 – Indrek Erm, Estonian architect
1965 – Claude Lemieux, Canadian ice hockey player
1965 – Billy Mitchell, American gamer
1965 – Tina Tyler, Canadian porn actress and director
1965 – Sherri Stoner, American actress and writer
1966 – Jyrki Lumme, Finnish ice hockey player
1966 – Mikhail Tatarinov, Russian ice hockey player
1966 – Johnny Vaughan, English journalist
1967 – Will Ferrell, American actor, producer, and screenwriter
1967 – Christophe Rocancourt, French con-artist
1968 – Henry Hate, American-English tattoo artist
1968 – Dhanraj Pillay, Indian field hockey player
1968 – Barry Sanders, American football player
1968 – Larry Sanger, American philosopher, co-founded Wikipedia and Citizendium
1969 – Jules De Martino, English musician and singer-songwriter (The Ting Tings).
1969 – Kathryn Harby-Williams, Australian netball player
1969 – Daryl Mitchell, American actor and producer
1969 – Rain Pryor, American actress
1970 – Raimonds Miglinieks, Latvian basketball player
1970 – Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thai director, producer, and screenwriter
1971 – Corey Feldman, American actor and singer
1971 – Ed Kowalczyk, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Live)
1972 – Ben Cahoon, American-Canadian football player and coach
1972 – François Drolet, Canadian speed skater
1973 – Stefano Garzelli, Italian cyclist
1973 – Shaun Pollock, South African cricketer
1973 – Graham Robertson, American director and producer
1973 – Tim Ryan, American politician
1974 – Jeremy Enigk, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Sunny Day Real Estate and The Fire Theft)
1974 – Maret Maripuu, Estonian politician
1974 – Ryan McCombs, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Soil and Drowning Pool)
1974 – Chris Pontius, American actor and stuntman
1974 – Wendell Sailor, Australian rugby player
1975 – Ana Paula Arósio, Brazilian model and actress
1975 – Bas Leinders, Belgian race car driver
1975 – Jamie Oliver, Welsh singer and keyboard player (Lostprophets)
1976 – Tomasz Kuchar, Polish race car driver
1976 – Bobby Lashley, American wrestler, mixed martial artist, and actor
1976 – Carlos Humberto Paredes, Paraguayan footballer
1976 – Anna Smashnova, Israeli tennis player
1977 – Bryan Budd, Irish soldier, Victoria Cross recipient (d. 2006)
1979 – Jayma Mays, American actress and singer
1979 – Chris Mihm, American basketball player
1979 – Mai Nakamura, Japanese swimmer
1979 – Nathan Rogers, Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist
1979 – Konstantin Skrylnikov, Russian footballer
1980 – Jesse Jane, American porn actress and model
1980 – Justine Joli, American porn actress and model
1980 – Adam Scott, Australian golfer
1981 – Giuseppe Di Masi, Italian footballer
1981 – Zach Randolph, American basketball player
1981 – Vicente Rodríguez, Spanish footballer
1982 – André Greipel, German cyclist
1982 – Michael Umaña, Costa Rican footballer
1983 – Duncan Keith, Canadian ice hockey player
1984 – Katrina Kaif, Hong Kong-English actress
1984 – Hayanari Shimoda, Japanese race car driver
1984 – Attila Szabó, Hungarian decathlete
1985 – Yōko Hikasa, Japanese voice actress and singer
1985 – Taryn Southern, American actress and singer
1985 – Denis Tahirović, Croatian footballer
1986 – Dustin Boyd, Canadian ice hockey player
1987 – Mousa Dembélé, Belgian footballer
1987 – AnnaLynne McCord, American actress
1988 – Sergio Busquets, Spanish footballer
1989 – Gareth Bale, Welsh footballer
1989 – Carlito Olivero, American singer-songwriter and actor
1990 – Radka Bártová, Slovak figure skater
1990 – James Maslow, American singer-songwriter, actor, and dancer
1990 – Johann Zarco, French motorcycle racer
1991 – Iiris, Estonian singer
1991 – Andros Townsend, English footballer
1993 – Billy Ward, Australian boxer (d. 2013)
1994 – Mark Indelicato, American actor and singer

Jul 16, 1945:
United States conducts first test of the atomic bomb

The United States conducts the first test of the atomic bomb at at the Trinity bomb site in central New Mexico. The terrifying new weapon would quickly become a focal point in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The official U.S. development of the atomic bomb began with the establishment of the Manhattan Project in August 1942. The project brought together scientists from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada to study the feasibility of building an atomic bomb capable of unimaginable destructive power. The project proceeded with no small degree of urgency, since the American government had been warned that Nazi Germany had also embarked on a program to develop an atomic weapon. By July 1945, a prototype weapon was ready for testing. Although Germany had surrendered months earlier, the war against Japan was still raging. On July 16, the first atomic bomb was detonated in the desert near the Los Alamos research facility. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the project, watched the mushroom cloud rise into the New Mexico sky. "Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds," he uttered, reciting a passage from an ancient Hindu text. News of the successful test was relayed to President Harry S. Truman, who was meeting with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in Potsdam to discuss the postwar world. Observers at the meeting noted that the news "tremendously pepped up" the president, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed that Truman almost immediately adopted a more aggressive tone in dealing with Stalin.

Truman and many other U.S. officials hoped that possession of the atomic bomb would be America's trump card in dealing with the Soviets after the war. Use of the weapon against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 demonstrated the destructive force of the atomic bomb. The American atomic monopoly did not last long, though. By 1949, the Soviets had developed their own atomic bomb, marking the beginning of the nuclear arms race.

Jul 16, 1945:
Atom bomb successfully tested

On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass-a nuclear explosion-and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Finally, on the morning of July 16, in the New Mexico desert 120 miles south of Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized.

The question now became-on whom was the bomb to be dropped? Germany was the original target, but the Germans had already surrendered. The only belligerent remaining was Japan.

A footnote: The original $6,000 budget for the Manhattan Project finally ballooned to a total cost of $2 billion.

Jul 16, 1948:
Durocher leaves Dodgers to manage Giants

On July 16, 1948, Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher announces that he will be joining the New York Giants, the Dodgers’ archrival. The move was the swiftest and most stunning managerial change in baseball history.

Leo "The Lip" Durocher was a brilliant shortstop and mediocre hitter for 17 major league seasons with four teams, including the famed "Gashouse Gang" St. Louis Cardinals teams of the 1930s. Durocher served as manager and part-time player for the Dodgers from 1939 to 1945, when he ended his playing career but stayed on as manager. Prior to the 1947 season, Durocher was suspended by National League President Happy Chandler because of incidents Chandler summed up as "detrimental to baseball." These included rumors of gambling; a public rivalry with New York Yankees owner Larry MacPhail, for whom Durocher had worked when MacPhail ran the Dodgers; and a highly publicized affair and elopement with actress Lorraine Day. The suspension forced Durocher to sit out the entire 1947 season.

Giants President Horace Stoneham, believing that his team would benefit from the fire Durocher brought to the game, engineered the hiring. Stoneham approached Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey regarding the availability of Durocher, whom he suspected was falling out of Rickey’s good graces. Rickey was receptive to the change, and Mel Ott, the National League’s all-time home run leader and Giants’ manager since 1942, agreed to a transfer to the team’s front office. On the 46th anniversary of the great John McGraw’s hiring as Giants’ manager, former team enemy number one Leo Durocher took the team’s helm. The move shocked baseball fans across the country.

Durocher went on to manage the Giants through the 1955 season. Highlights of his tenure included a victory over their archrival Dodgers in a one-game playoff for the National League pennant in 1951 and a 4-0 sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series for the team’s first championship since 1933.

In his career, Leo Durocher won 2,015 games--good for ninth all-time--as manager of the Dodgers, Giants, Chicago Clubs and Houston Astros, in addition to three National League pennants and one World Series. He may best be remembered for the quote "nice guys finish last."

Jul 16, 1951:
Catcher in the Rye is published

J.D. Salinger's only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is published by Little, Brown on this day in 1951. The book, about a confused teenager disillusioned by the adult world, is an instant hit and will be taught in high schools for half a century.

The 31-year-old Salinger had worked on the novel for a decade. His stories had already started appearing in the 1940s, many in the New Yorker.

The book took the country by storm, selling out and becoming a Book of the Month Club selection. Fame did not agree with Salinger, who retreated to a hilltop cabin in Cornish, New York, but he continued to publish stories in the New Yorker periodically. He published Franny and Zooey in 1963, based on two combined New Yorker stories.

Salinger stopped publishing work in 1965, the same year he divorced his wife of 12 years, whom he had married when he was 32. In 1999, journalist Joyce Maynard published a book about her affair with Salinger, which had taken place more than two decades earlier. Notoriously reclusive, Salinger died at his home in New Hampsire on Jan. 27, 2010. He was 91 years old.

Jul 16, 1965:
McNamara visits South Vietnam

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara conducts a fact-finding mission in South Vietnam, and Henry Cabot Lodge arrives in Saigon to resume his post as ambassador. Lodge had previously held the ambassadorship, but resigned in 1964 to seek the Republican presidential nomination, which was eventually won by Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Lodge returned to Saigon again as ambassador from 1965 to 1967.

While visiting Saigon, McNamara was informed by secret cable that President Lyndon B. Johnson had decided to give Gen. William Westmoreland the troops he had requested. The American commander had been asking for additional U.S. troops so that he could stabilize the military situation and "carry the war to the communists." McNamara, believing that the United States should commit itself to preventing the fall of South Vietnam to communism, supported Westmoreland's request. McNamara said at a press conference upon leaving Saigon: "There has been deterioration since I was last here, 15 months ago."

Jul 16, 1966:
Tommy James and the Shondells are rescued from oblivion by their #1 hit "Hanky Panky

By the standard laws of pop success, 17-year old Tommy James and his band The Shondells had already had their chance and missed it by the winter of 1965-66. They'd recorded a couple of records while still in high school, but when neither managed to gain attention outside of southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, the young men were staring at the same fate that awaits most garage bands when they graduate high school: real life. But thanks to an incredible sequence of chance events, a very different fate awaited young Tommy James, who earned his first #1 hit on this day in 1966 with "Hanky Panky." The original Shondells would not be so fortunate.

The first chance event that led to Tommy James and the Shondells becoming one of the biggest pop acts of the late 1960s happened back in 1963, when the legendary songwriting couple Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich—who wrote "(And Then) He Kissed Me" and "Da Doo Ron Ron" for the Crystals, among many other hits—were recording a single of their own that needed a B-side filler tune. In a hallway outside the studio, they took 20 minutes to write "Hanky Panky."

Fast-forward to 1964, when Tommy James and his Niles, Michigan, friends and bandmates were signed to a local record label called Snap Records. With a contract to record four sides but a repertoire that was even smaller, they quickly learned "Hanky Panky" based on James' recollection of how it sounded when he heard it covered at a club in nearby South Bend, Indiana. The raw energy of the Shondells' version made "Hanky Panky" a regional hit, but the record quickly faded away, along with the Shondells' musical ambitions.

Nearly two years later, in late 1965, a Pittsburgh disk jockey named "Mad Mike" Metro happened to pull "Hanky Panky" from a record-store bargain bin. When he played it on the air, the response was overwhelming, and soon the record was a big enough hit in Pittsburgh to inspire bootleggers to press 80,000 illegal copies for sale in stores. When Tommy James got the call informing him of this turn of events and inviting him to come perform his hit song in Pittsburgh, he made his travel plans instantly, but none of his fellow Shondells could be convinced to join him. And so it was that Tommy James hustled to Pittsburgh alone and drafted a brand-new set of Shondells after hearing Mike Vale, Pete Lucia, Ronnie Rosman and Eddie Gray playing in a local club as the Raconteurs. This lineup of Tommy James and the Shondells would go on to enjoy a hugely successful late 1960s career that featured 14 top-40 hits, beginning with the song that topped the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1966.

Jul 16, 1967:
Funnyman Will Ferrell born

On this day in 1967,the actor and comedian Will Ferrell is born in Irvine, California. After rising to fame on TV’s Saturday Night Live, Ferrell starred in a string of big-screen comedies, including Old School and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Ferrell graduated from the University of Southern California in 1990 and went on to join The Groundlings, an improvisational comedy group whose members have included Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz and Lisa Kudrow. In 1995, Ferrell became a cast member of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Over the course of his seven seasons with the show, he became known for his impersonations of such celebrities as President George W. Bush, game show host Alex Trebek and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton. Ferrell also became known for the fictional characters he created, including cowbell player Gene Frenkle of Blue Oyster Cult, cheerleader Craig Buchanan and dense nightclubber Steve Butabi.

In 1998, Ferrell reprised the Butabi character for the feature-length movie A Night at the Roxbury, which co-starred his SNL castmates Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon. The following year, Ferrell and Shannon appeared together in another SNL sketch movie spin-off, Superstar, about the nerdy Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher (played by Shannon). During his years at SNL, Ferrell also had supporting roles in movie comedies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1995), Zoolander (2001) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001).

In 2003, Ferrell starred in the box-office hits Elf, about a human raised by Santa’s elves, and Old School, about three men in their 30s who try to relive their college days by starting their own fraternity. Ferrell, along with his Old School co-stars Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn, came to be known in the media as members of the so-called “Frat Pack,” a group of male Hollywood actors who appeared together in comedies in the late 1990s and 2000s. Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller were also considered members of the group.

In recent years, Ferrell has starred in several sports-themed comedies, including 2006’s Talladega Nights, about auto racing; 2007’s Blades of Glory, about figure skating; and 2008’s Semi-Pro, about basketball.
16 July Deaths

1216 – Pope Innocent III (b. 1160)
1324 – Emperor Go-Uda of Japan (b. 1267)
1342 – Charles I of Hungary (b. 1288)
1546 – Anne Askew, English poet (b. 1520)
1557 – Anne of Cleves (b. 1515)
1647 – Masaniello, Italian rebel (b. 1622)
1664 – Andreas Gryphius, German poet and playwright (b. 1616)
1686 – John Pearson, English bishop and scholar (b. 1612)
1691 – François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, French politician (b. 1641)
1729 – Johann David Heinichen, German composer (b. 1683)
1747 – Giuseppe Crespi, Italian painter (b. 1665)
1770 – Francis Cotes, English painter (b. 1726)
1796 – George Howard, English field marshal (b. 1718)
1831 – Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langeron, Russian general (b. 1763)
1850 – Julia Glover, Irish actress (b. 1779)
1868 – Dmitry Pisarev, Russian author and critic (b. 1840)
1879 – Edward Deas Thomson, Australian politician (b. 1800)
1882 – Mary Todd Lincoln, American wife of Abraham Lincoln, 19th First Lady of the United States (b. 1818)
1886 – Ned Buntline, American author (b. 1823)
1896 – Edmond de Goncourt, French critic and publisher, founded Académie Goncourt (b. 1822)
1915 – Ellen G. White, American author (b. 1827)
1916 – Élie Metchnikoff, Russian microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1845)
1917 – Philipp Scharwenka, German composer and educator (b. 1847)
1949 – Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov, Russian poet and playwright (b. 1866)
1953 – Hilaire Belloc, French-English historian and politician (b. 1870)
1960 – Albert Kesselring, German field marshal (b. 1881)
1960 – John P. Marquand, American author (b. 1893)
1965 – Boris Artzybasheff, American illustrator (b.1899)
1976 – Carmelo Soria, Spanish-Chilean diplomat (b. 1921)
1979 – Alfred Deller, English singer (b. 1912)
1981 – Harry Chapin, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1942)
1982 – Patrick Dewaere, French actor (b. 1947)
1982 – Charles Robberts Swart, South African politician, 1st State President of South Africa (b. 1894)
1985 – Heinrich Böll, German author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1917)
1985 – Wayne King, American saxophonist, songwriter, and bandleader (b. 1901)
1989 – Herbert von Karajan, Austrian conductor (b. 1908)
1990 – Robert Blackburn, Irish educator (b. 1927)
1990 – Sidney Torch, English pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1908)
1991 – Meindert DeJong, Dutch-American author (b. 1906)
1991 – Robert Motherwell, American painter (b. 1915)
1991 – Frank Rizzo, American police officer and politician, 93rd Mayor of Philadelphia (b. 1920)
1992 – Buck Buchanan, American football player (b. 1940)
1994 – Marcel-Marie Desmarais, Canadian priest and broadcaster (b. 1908)
1994 – Julian Schwinger, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1918)
1995 – May Sarton, Belgian-American author and poet (b. 1912)
1995 – Stephen Spender, English author and poet (b. 1909)
1996 – John Panozzo, American drummer (Styx) (b. 1948)
1996 – Adolf von Thadden, German politician (b. 1921)
1998 – John Henrik Clarke, American historian and scholar (b. 1915)
1999 – Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, American publicist (b. 1966)
1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr., American lawyer and publisher, co-founded George Magazine (b. 1960)
1999 – Alan Macnaughton, Canadian politician (b. 1903)
1999 – Hiromi Yanagihara, Japanese singer (Country Musume) (b. 1979)
2001 – Morris, Belgian cartoonist (b. 1923)
2001 – Terry Gordy, American wrestler (b. 1961)
2001 – Dimitrios Holevas, Greek priest (b. 1907)
2002 – John Cocke, American computer scientist (b. 1925)
2003 – Celia Cruz, Cuban-American singer (b. 1924)
2003 – Carol Shields, American-Canadian author (b. 1935)
2004 – George Busbee, American lawyer and politician, 77th Governor of Georgia (b. 1927)
2004 – Charles Sweeney, American general (b. 1919)
2005 – Pietro Consagra, Italian sculptor (b. 1920)
2005 – Camillo Felgen, Luxembourgian singer-songwriter and radio host (b. 1920)
2005 – Yi Gu, Japanese son of Bangja, Crown Princess Euimin of Korea (b. 1931)
2006 – Bob Orton, American wrestler (b. 1929)
2006 – Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, American politician, 13th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas (b. 1948)
2007 – Caterina Bueno, Italian singer and historian (b. 1943)
2008 – Jo Stafford, American singer and actress (b. 1917)
2010 – James Gammon, American actor (b. 1940)
2011 – Forrest Blue, American football player (b. 1944)
2012 – William Asher, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921)
2012 – Bob Babbitt, American bass player (The Funk Brothers) (b. 1937)
2012 – Stephen Covey, American businessman and author (b. 1932)
2012 – Gilbert Esau, American politician (b. 1919)
2012 – Antonín Holý, Czech chemist (b. 1936)
2012 – Taras Kiktyov, Ukrainian footballer (b. 1986)
2012 – Ed Lincoln, Brazilian bassist, pianist, and composer (b. 1932)
2012 – Jon Lord, English keyboard player and songwriter (Deep Purple, The Artwoods, The Flower Pot Men, and Paice Ashton Lord) (b. 1941)
2012 – Masaharu Matsushita, Japanese businessman (b. 1913)
2012 – Kitty Wells, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1919)
2013 – Todd Bennett, English runner (b. 1962)
2013 – Talia Castellano, American blogger (b. 1999)
2013 – Alex Colville, Canadian painter (b. 1920)
2013 – Barun De, Indian historian and academic (b. 1932)
2013 – T-Model Ford, American singer and guitarist (b. 1920)
2013 – Mario Laserna Pinzón, French-Colombian educator and politician (b. 1923)
2013 – Shringar Nagaraj, Indian actor and producer (b. 1939)
2013 – Hassan Pakandam, Iranian boxer (b. 1934)
2013 – Yuri Vasilyevich Prokhorov, Russian mathematician (b. 1929)
2013 – Marv Rotblatt, American baseball player (1927)

Jul 16, 1969:
Apollo 11 departs Earth

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, Apollo 11, the first U.S. lunar landing mission, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a historic journey to the surface of the moon. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19.

The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, separated from the command module, where a third astronaut, Michael Collins, remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston a famous message, "The Eagle has landed." At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. Seventeen minutes later, at 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke the following words to millions listening at home: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." A moment later, he stepped off the lunar module's ladder, becoming the first human to walk on the surface of the moon.

Aldrin joined him on the moon's surface at 11:11 p.m., and together they took photographs of the terrain, planted a U.S. flag, ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M. Nixon via Houston. By 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module, and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon--July 1969 A.D.--We came in peace for all mankind." At 5:35 p.m., Armstrong and Aldrin successfully docked and rejoined Collins, and at 12:56 a.m. on July 22 Apollo 11 began its journey home, safely splashing down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:51 p.m. on July 24.

There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, Apollo 13. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. The Apollo program was a costly and labor intensive endeavor, involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, technicians, and scientists, and costing $24 billion (close to $100 billion in today's dollars). The expense was justified by President John F. Kennedy's 1961 mandate to beat the Soviets to the moon, and after the feat was accomplished, ongoing missions lost their viability.

Jul 16, 1973:
Senate begins investigations into secret bombing of Cambodia

The Senate Armed Services Committee begins a probe into allegations that the U.S. Air Force made thousands of secret B-52 raids into Cambodia in 1969 and 1970 at a time when the United States recognized the neutrality of the Prince Norodom Sihanouk regime in Cambodia. The Pentagon acknowledged that President Richard Nixon and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird had authorized the raids against Cambodia, but Sihanouk denied the State Department claim that he had requested or authorized the bombing. Though it was established that the bombing records had been falsified, Laird and Henry Kissinger, Nixon's National Security Advisor, denied any knowledge of the falsification. The Senate hearings eventually exposed the extent of the secrecy involved in the bombing campaign and seriously damaged the credibility of the Nixon administration.

Jul 16, 1979:
An army doctor is accused of stabbing his family to death

Jeffrey MacDonald stands trial in North Carolina for the murder of his wife and children nearly 10 years before. Captain MacDonald, an army doctor stationed at Fort Bragg, made an emergency call to military police in the early morning hours of February 17, 1970. Responding officers found Colette MacDonald and her two children, five-year-old Kimberley and two-year-old Kristen, dead from multiple stab wounds. The word "pig" had been written in blood on the headboard of a bed. Jeffrey, who had a few stab wounds himself, told the officers that four hippies had attacked the family.

With little evidence of disruption to the home, investigators doubted MacDonald's story of struggling with the killers. An Esquire magazine containing an article about the notorious Manson murders was on the floor in the living room where MacDonald claimed to have been attacked. Investigators theorized that the hippie story and writing on the wall were attempts to mimic that crime and diffuse suspicion.

More important, the blood and fiber evidence did not seem to support MacDonald's account of events. In a stroke of luck for detectives, each member of the MacDonald family had different and distinguishable blood types. Little of Jeffrey's blood was found anywhere in the home except in the bathroom. In addition, his wounds were much less severe than those of his family; his wife and children had been stabbed at least 20 times each.

Still, the initial forensic investigation was badly bungled and the charges were eventually dropped later in 1970. A three-month military hearing ended without a court-martial due to lack of evidence and MacDonald was honorably discharged shortly afterward. Although MacDonald appeared on television complaining about his treatment, investigators stayed on the case. In 1974, a grand jury indicted him for murder, but due to various delays, the trial did not begin for another five years. In 1979, MacDonald was convicted and given three life sentences.

MacDonald, still vigorously insisting on his innocence, enlisted author Joe McGinnis to help exonerate him. McGinnis interviewed MacDonald and investigated the case on his own, but decided early on in the project that MacDonald was indeed guilty. The subsequent book, Fatal Vision, was a bestseller and it enraged MacDonald, who sued McGinnis for fraud.
MacDonald has since exhausted his appeals--his case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court more than any other--and remains in prison. He has been denied parole, but will again be eligible in 2020, when he will be 76 years old.

Jul 16, 1990:
Earthquake wreaks havoc in the Philippines

More than 1,000 people are killed when a 7.7-magnitude earthquake strikes Luzon Island in the Philippines on this day in 1990. The massive tremor wreaked havoc across a sizeable portion of Luzon, the country's largest island, with Baguio City suffering the most devastating effects.

The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 4:26 p.m., was north of Manila in the Nueva Ecija province. Reports indicate that the shaking went on for nearly a full minute. Collapsing buildings were the main cause of damage and death. Getting out of a multi-story building was a good safety precaution that afternoon, although many people were injured and a few even died in stampedes of others doing the same thing.

At Christian College, a six-story building completely collapsed, trapping approximately 250 students and teachers inside. Heroic rescue efforts saved many, but some victims who did not die in the collapse were found dead later from dehydration because they were not pulled out in time.

All types of buildings, including several resort hotels in Baguio, known as the Philippines' Summer Capital, suffered tremendous damage. Most of the city's 100,000 residents slept outdoors that evening and during the following week, afraid to return to their homes amid the frequent aftershocks. For days, workers pulled bodies from the demolished buildings in Baguio. The best estimate is that 1,000 bodies were eventually recovered. At least another 1,000 people suffered serious injuries. Rescue efforts were hampered severely because the three main roads into the city were blocked by landslides. Hundreds of motorists were stranded on the roads as well. Outside of Baguio, a chemical factory fire also caused terrible damage. The Tuba gold and copper mine in the area lost 30 workers when a mine collapsed.

Baguio, sitting on at least seven fault lines, is now listed as one of the most risk-prone cities in Asia. In addition to the risk of earthquakes, the area's high annual rainfall increases the likelihood of deadly landslides.

American military personnel stationed in the Philippine archipelago took part in the relief effort. The area was revisited by disaster less than a year later when Mount Pinatubo erupted. Some geologists believe the two events were connected.

Jul 16, 1999:
JFK Jr. killed in plane crash

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr.; his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy; and her sister, Lauren Bessette, die when the single-engine plane that Kennedy was piloting crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., was born on November 25, 1960, just a few weeks after his father and namesake was elected the 35th president of the United States. On his third birthday, "John-John" attended the funeral of his assassinated father and was photographed saluting his father's coffin in a famous and searing image. Along with his sister, Caroline, he was raised in Manhattan by his mother, Jacqueline. After graduating from Brown University and a very brief acting stint, he attended New York University Law School. He passed the bar on his third try and worked in New York as an assistant district attorney, winning all six of his cases. In 1995, he founded the political magazine George, which grew to have a circulation of more than 400,000. Unlike many others in his famous family, he never sought public office himself.

Always in the media spotlight, he was celebrated for the good looks that he inherited from his parents. In 1988, he was named the "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine. He was linked romantically with several celebrities, including the actress Daryl Hannah, whom he dated for five years. In September 1996, he married girlfriend Carolyn Bessette, a fashion publicist. The two shared an apartment in New York City, where Kennedy was often seen inline skating in public. Known for his adventurous nature, he nonetheless took pains to separate himself from the more self-destructive behavior of some of the other men in the Kennedy clan.

On July 16, 1999, however, with about 300 hours of flying experience, Kennedy took off from Essex County airport in New Jersey and flew his single-engine plane into a hazy, moonless night. He had turned down an offer by one of his flight instructors to accompany him, saying he "wanted to do it alone." To reach his destination of Martha's Vineyard, he would have to fly 200 miles--the final phase over a dark, hazy ocean--and inexperienced pilots can lose sight of the horizon under such conditions. Unable to see shore lights or other landmarks, Kennedy would have to depend on his instruments, but he had not qualified for a license to fly with instruments only. In addition, he was recovering from a broken ankle, which might have affected his ability to pilot his plane.

At Martha's Vineyard, Kennedy was to drop off his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, one of his two passengers. From there, Kennedy and his wife, Carolyn, were to fly on to the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod's Hyannis Port for the marriage of Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of the late Robert F. Kennedy. The Piper Saratoga aircraft never made it to Martha's Vineyard. Radar data examined later showed the plane plummeting from 2,200 feet to 1,100 feet in a span of 14 seconds, a rate far beyond the aircraft's safe maximum. It then disappeared from the radar screen.

Kennedy's plane was reported missing by friends and family members, and an intensive rescue operation was launched by the Coast Guard, the navy, the air force, and civilians. After two days of searching, the thousands of people involved gave up hope of finding survivors and turned their efforts to recovering the wreckage of the aircraft and the bodies. Americans mourned the loss of the "crown prince" of one of the country's most admired families, a sadness that was especially poignant given the relentless string of tragedies that have haunted the Kennedy family over the years.

On July 21, navy divers recovered the bodies of JFK Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law from the wreckage of the plane, which was lying under 116 feet of water about eight miles off the Vineyard's shores. The next day, the cremated remains of the three were buried at sea during a ceremony on the USS Briscoe, a navy destroyer. A private mass for JFK Jr. and Carolyn was held on July 23 at the Church of St. Thomas More in Manhattan, where the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis worshipped. President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were among the 300 invited guests. The Kennedy family's surviving patriarch, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, delivered a moving eulogy: "From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. He had a legacy, and he learned to treasure it. He was part of a legend, and he learned to live with it."

Investigators studying the wreckage of the Piper Saratoga found no problems with its mechanical or navigational systems. In their final report released in 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the crash was caused by an inexperienced pilot who became disoriented in the dark and lost control.

Jul 16, 2002:
Bush unveils strategy for homeland security

On this day in 2002, President George W. Bush announces his plan for strengthening homeland security in the wake of the shocking September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., in which nearly 3,000 people had been killed. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, in an attempt to prevent further bloodshed on American soil, Bush launched a massive overhaul of the nation's security, intelligence and emergency-response systems through the creation of the White House Office of Homeland Security. Later in the month, the Department of Homeland Security was established as a federal agency. It was part of a two-pronged effort, which included pre-emptive military action against terrorists in other countries, to fight the war on terror.

During a White House press conference that day, Bush gave the American public a preview of the changes to come, including, but not limited to, a color-coded warning system that identified different levels of threat, assessing which industries and regions were vulnerable to attack. He also proposed changes in laws that would give the president increased executive powers, particularly with regard to anti-terrorism policy.

On the day of his announcement, it appeared that Bush and Congress formed a fairly united front in favor of the new policy. However, as soon as the Department of Homeland Security was established, critics who feared the potential abuse of presidential powers and the abandonment of civil liberties in the name of national security raised their voices. Bush tried to reassure them that the changes were constitutional and open to Congressional oversight. However, over the next few years, his administration faced accusations of flagrantly violating the Constitution and creating a political culture of secrecy and cronyism.
17 July Events

180 – Twelve inhabitants of Scillium in North Africa are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world.
1203 – The Fourth Crusade captures Constantinople by assault. The Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos flees from his capital into exile.
1402 – Zhu Di, better known by his era name as the Yongle Emperor, assumes the throne over the Ming Dynasty of China.
1429 – Hundred Years' War: Charles VII of France is crowned the King of France in the Reims Cathedral after a successful campaign by Joan of Arc
1453 – Battle of Castillon: The last battle of Hundred Years' War, the French under Jean Bureau defeat the English under the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is killed in the battle in Gascony.
1717 – King George I of Great Britain sails down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians, where George Frideric Handel's Water Music is premiered.
1762 – Catherine II becomes tsar of Russia upon the murder of Peter III of Russia.
1771 – Bloody Falls Massacre: Chipewyan chief Matonabbee, traveling as the guide to Samuel Hearne on his Arctic overland journey, massacres a group of unsuspecting Inuit.
1791 – Members of the French National Guard under the command of General Lafayette open fire on a crowd of radical Jacobins at the Champ de Mars, Paris, during the French Revolution, killing as many as 50 people.
1794 – The sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne are executed 10 days prior to the end of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror.
1856 – The Great Train Wreck of 1856 in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, kills over 60 people.
1867 – Harvard School of Dental Medicine is established in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the first dental school in the U.S. that is affiliated with a university.
1896 – Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, the Indian sage, at age 16, spontaneously initiates a process of self-enquiry that culminates within a few minutes in his own permanent awakening.
1899 – NEC Corporation is organized as the first Japanese joint venture with foreign capital.
1917 – King George V issues a Proclamation stating that the male line descendants of the British Royal Family will bear the surname Windsor.
1918 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are murdered by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
1918 – The RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, is sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55; 5 lives are lost.
1932 – Altona Bloody Sunday: A riot between the Nazi Party paramilitary forces, the SS and SA, and the German Communist Party ensues.
1933 – After successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Lithuanian research aircraft Lituanica crashes in Europe under mysterious circumstances.
1936 – Spanish Civil War: An Armed Forces rebellion against the recently elected leftist Popular Front government of Spain starts the civil war.
1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the "wrong way" to Ireland and becomes known as "Wrong Way" Corrigan.
1944 – Port Chicago disaster: Near the San Francisco Bay, two ships laden with ammunition for the war explode in Port Chicago, California, killing 320.
1944 – World War II: Napalm incendiary bombs are dropped for the first time by American P-38 pilots on a fuel depot at Coutances, near Saint-Lô, France.
1945 – World War II: the main three leaders of the Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
1948 – The South Korean constitution is proclaimed.
1953 – The largest number of United States midshipman casualties in a single event results from an aircraft crash in Florida killing 44.
1955 – Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.
1962 – Nuclear weapons testing: The "Small Boy" test shot Little Feller I becomes the last atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada National Security Site.
1968 – A revolution occurs in Iraq when Abdul Rahman Arif is overthrown and the Ba'ath Party is installed as the governing power in Iraq with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr as the new Iraqi President.
1973 – King Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan is deposed by his cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan while in Italy undergoing eye surgery.
1975 – Apollo–Soyuz Test Project: An American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with each other in orbit marking the first such link-up between spacecraft from the two nations.
1976 – East Timor is annexed, and becomes the 27th province of Indonesia.
1976 – The opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal is marred by 25 African teams boycotting the New Zealand team.
1979 – Nicaraguan dictator General Anastasio Somoza Debayle resigns and flees to Miami, Florida.
1981 – The opening of the Humber Bridge by Queen Elizabeth II in England, United Kingdom.
1981 – A structural failure leads to the collapse of a walkway at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, Missouri killing 114 people and injuring more than 200.
1985 – Founding of the EUREKA Network by former head of states François Mitterrand (France) and Helmut Kohl (Germany).
1989 – First flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
1989 – Holy See–Poland relations are restored.
1996 – TWA Flight 800: Off the coast of Long Island, New York, a Paris-bound TWA Boeing 747 explodes, killing all 230 on board.
1996 – The Community of Portuguese Language Countries is founded.
1998 – Papua New Guinea earthquake: A tsunami triggered by an undersea earthquake destroys 10 villages in Papua New Guinea killing an estimated 3,183, leaving 2,000 more unaccounted for and thousands more homeless.
1998 – A diplomatic conference adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing a permanent international court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
2001 – Concorde is brought back in to service nearly a year after the July 2000 crash.

Jul 17, 1763:
John Jacob Astor is born

Destined to make a fortune from the furs of the American West, John Jacob Astor is born in modest circumstances in the small German village of Waldorf.

Although the number of foreign immigrants to the U.S. who succeeded in striking it rich is often exaggerated in the popular mind, Astor's brilliant success demonstrates that "rags to riches" stories did sometimes happen. In his home village of Waldorf, Germany, not far from the city of Heidelberg, the young Astor's opportunities were respectable though limited. The son of the village butcher, Astor could have followed in his father's footsteps or entered some other modest trade. Instead, when he was 16 years old, Astor left Waldorf and traveled to London to join his brother in the manufacture of musical instruments.

Eager to find new markets, the two brothers looked overseas to the newly independent United States of America. In 1793, Astor sailed for America with a shipload of flutes and little money. En route, Astor became friends with a fur dealer who persuaded him to sell his flutes in New York and use the profits to buy furs to sell upon returning to London. He did, and the sizeable profit convinced him to enter full-time into the fur trade.

Quickly learning all he could about the growing American fur trade, Astor made numerous trips to the western frontier, and by the end of the century, he had become the leading fur merchant in the United States. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Astor moved aggressively to exploit this huge new territory for its furs. Although Lewis and Clark's exploration of the territory brought back the disappointing news that there was no easy water passage across the continent to the Pacific, Astor was nonetheless convinced that a Pacific Coast operation could profitably sell its furs to the huge China market. In 1810, he created the Pacific Fur Company. Within two years, his men had established a trading post named Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River (about sixty miles northwest of modern-day Portland).

The outbreak of the War of 1812 forced Astor to abandon Astoria to the British, effectively destroying his Pacific Fur Company, but he eventually achieved much the same end by gradually expanding his New York-based American Fur Company westward. By 1823, Astor's firm dominated the American fur trade east of the Rockies, although the British Hudson Bay Company maintained its hold in Oregon Territory until 1845. By then, the fur trade was already going into steep decline as beaver populations were wiped out and fashion shifted to silk rather than fur hats.

Fortunately, in the 1830s, the crafty Astor had begun diversifying his business interests by purchasing huge amounts of New York real estate. Building on the profits he had made in the fur trade, Astor abandoned his interest in the western frontier altogether in 1834 and concentrated on his East Coast investments. When he died in New York City in 1848, the German butcher's son that had arrived in the U.S. with nothing but a shipload of flutes was the wealthiest man in America. His estate was conservatively estimated at $20 million.

Jul 17, 1776:
Congress learns of war of words

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress learns of General George Washington's refusal to accept a dispatch from British General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Viscount Howe, opening peace negotiations, because it failed to use the title "general." In response, Congress proclaimed that the commander in chief acted "with a dignity becoming his station," and directed all American commanders to receive only letters addressed to them "in the characters they respectively sustain."

The Howe brothers had assembled the largest European force ever to land in the Americas on Staten Island, New York, while Congress was voting their approval of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in early July 1776. The commander in chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington, had spent the spring of 1776 moving his 19,000 men from Boston to New York, where they would confront 30,000 under the charge of the Howe brothers.

The Howes had the authority to use their overwhelming force to put down the colonial rebellion, but they also had permission to readmit the former colonies to the British empire and pardon those who had led the revolt. Of their two options, the Howes preferred the latter. Thus, the brothers wrote to Washington, inviting him to enter into negotiations with them as representatives of the crown. However, they could not use Washington's title, "general," as to do so would have given legitimacy to the rebel army the British denied had the right to exist. Washington would neither excuse the affront nor open the letter.

Washington's decision forced the Howes to fight. The British took Long Island, but allowed the Continentals to evacuate to Manhattan following the Battle of Brooklyn Heights on August 27, 1776. Hoping that the Patriots now appreciated their overwhelming strength and charity, the British began informal negotiations with members of Congress on Staten Island. The Patriots, however, withdrew from the talks when the British refused to recognize their independence.

Jul 17, 1864:
John Bell Hood takes command of the Army of Tennessee

On this day, Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaces General Joseph Johnston with John Bell Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee. Davis, impatient with Johnston's defensive strategy in the Atlanta campaign, felt that Hood stood a better chance of saving Atlanta from the forces of Union General William T. Sherman.

For nearly three months, Johnston and Sherman had maneuvered around the rugged corridor from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Although there was constant skirmishing, there were few major battles; Sherman kept trying to outflank Johnston, but his advances were blocked. Though this kept losses to a minimum, there was also a limit to how long Johnston could maintain this strategy as each move brought the armies closer to Atlanta. By July 17, 1864, Johnston was backed into the outskirts of Atlanta. Johnston felt his strategy was the only way to preserve the Army of Tennessee, but Davis felt that he had given up too much territory.

In a telegram informing Johnston of his decision, Davis wrote, "You failed to arrest the advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, far in the interior of Georgia, and express no confidence that you can defeat or repel him, you are hereby relieved from command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you will immediately turn over to General Hood."

Davis selected Hood for his reputation as a fighting general, in contrast to Johnston's cautious nature. Hood did what Davis wanted and quickly attacked Sherman at Peachtree Creek on July 20 but with disastrous results. Hood attacked two more times, losing both and destroying his army's offensive capabilities.

Jul 17, 1870:
"Wild Bill" Hickok kills a soldier

A drunken brawl turns deadly when "Wild Bill" Hickok shoots two soldiers in self-defense, mortally wounding one of them.

William Hickok had earned his reputation as a gunslinger a decade earlier after shooting three men in a gunfight in Nebraska. He parlayed his standing as a sure-shooting gunman into a haphazard career in law enforcement. In 1869, he was elected interim sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas. Hays City, the county seat, was a rough-and-tumble frontier town, and the citizens hoped Hickok could bring order to the chaos. Unfortunately, after Hickok had killed two men in the line of duty after just five weeks, they concluded that he was too wild for their tastes and they elected his deputy to replace him in November.

Unemployed, Hickok passed his time gambling, drinking, and occasionally working as a hunting guide. He quickly became bored and was considering taking work at the nearby Fort Hays as an army scout. On this day in 1870, Hickok had been drinking hard at Drum's Saloon in Hays City. Five soldiers from the 7th Cavalry stationed at Fort Hays were also at the bar. They were drunk and began to exchange words with the notoriously prickly "Wild Bill." A brawl broke out, and the soldiers threw Hickok to the floor. One trooper tried to shoot Hickok, but the gun misfired. Hickok quickly pulled his own pistols and opened fire. He wounded one private in the knee and wrist, and another in the torso. The three remaining soldiers backed off, and Hickok exited the saloon and immediately left town

A clear case of self-defense, Hickok was cleared of any wrongdoing. Yet, one of the soldiers, Private John Kile, later died of his wound and Hickok's chances of becoming an army scout evaporated. He spent the next six years working in law enforcement, gambling, and appearing in Wild West shows. He was murdered in a Deadwood, South Dakota, saloon in 1876.

Jul 17, 1889:
Erle Stanley Gardner is born

Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of crime-solving attorney Perry Mason, is born on this day in Madlen, Massachusetts.

Gardner attended college in Indiana but dropped out and moved to Southern California. He worked as a typist in a law firm for three years, then became an attorney himself. As a trial lawyer in Ventura, he started turning his law practice experience into short stories, which he successfully submitted to pulp magazines. His stories included detailed descriptions of court and the antics of trial attorneys, based on his own experience.

In 1933, he created his alter ego, Perry Mason, the hero of two stories published that year, "The Case of the Velvet Claws" and "The Case of the Sultry Girl." Soon after, he quit law to write full time and completed more than 80 Perry Mason novels, as well as writing two other detective series.

Perry Mason became a radio serial in 1943. The series, part crime show, part soap opera, ran until 1955. Perry Mason then moved to television in 1957 and starred Raymond Burr; the soap opera portion of the radio series was spun off into a series, The Edge of Night, which ran on daytime television until 1984. Perry Mason ran on television until 1966 and was later revived as a series of TV movies from 1985 to 1993.

Gardner died on March 11, 1970, at age 80.

Jul 17, 1917:
Fighting in the streets of Petrograd, Russia

On this day in 1917, a three-day stretch of fighting in the streets peaks in Petrograd after the provisional government falls temporarily amid anger and frustration within and outside the army due to the continuing hardships caused by Russia's participation in World War I.

Despite devastating losses on the Eastern Front in 1916, the provisional Russian government–which succeeded to power after the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in March–had rejected all calls for peace. Alexander Kerensky, appointed minister of war in the spring of 1917, was determined to reinvigorate the Russian war effort, installing the victorious General Alexei Brusilov as commander in chief of the Russian forces and making plans to go back on the offensive within months. The disintegration and despair within the army continued, however, as some 30,000 deserters were reported from the front every day. At Kerensky's command, Brusilov launched another major offensive on July 1, the same day a massive peace demonstration was held in Petrograd.

Though the new offensive resulted in heavy losses for the Russians, it was at home where the provisional government received its greatest threat. On July 15, 1917, an uprising in Petrograd encouraged by Leon Trotsky, an official of the Bolshevik Party–the radical socialist movement led by Vladimir Lenin, recently returned from exile due to German help–succeeded in briefly toppling the provisional government. The Bolsheviks saw their opportunity and attempted to seize power in Petrograd, as fighting broke out in the streets. The violence peaked on July 17. The following day, officers loyal to the provisional government destroyed the offices of the Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda. Lenin, sensing the time was not yet ripe for revolution, went into hiding–albeit temporarily–and Kerensky took charge, restoring order and continuing his efforts to salvage the Russian war effort.

Months later, however, Lenin emerged again, as the Bolsheviks succeeded in wresting power in Russia from the army in November amid massive strikes and rebellions in the streets; almost immediately after taking power, the Bolsheviks moved towards an armistice with the Central Powers, ending Russia's involvement in World War I.

Jul 17, 1920:
Three-point seatbelt inventor Nils Bohlin born

Nils Bohlin, the Swedish engineer and inventor responsible for the three-point lap and shoulder seatbelt--considered one of the most important innovations in automobile safety--is born on July 17, 1920 in Härnösand, Sweden.

Before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in automobiles; for the most part, the only people who regularly buckled up were race car drivers. The two-point belts strapped across the body, with a buckle placed over the abdomen, and in high-speed crashes had been known to cause serious internal injuries. In 1958, Volvo Car Corporation hired Bohlin, who had designed ejector seats for Saab fighter airplanes in the 1950s, to be the company's first chief safety engineer. (A relative of Volvo CEO Gunnar Engelau had died in a car crash, which helped motivate the company to increase its safety measures.) Bohlin had worked with the more elaborate four-point harnesses in airplanes, and knew that system would be untenable in an automobile. In designing the new seat belt, he concentrated on providing a more effective method of protecting driver and passenger against the impact of the swift deceleration that occurred when a car crashed.

Within a year, Bohlin had developed the three-point seat belt, introduced in Volvo cars in 1959. The new belts secured both the upper and lower body; its straps joined at hip level and buckled into what Bohlin called "an immovable anchorage point" below the hip, so that they could hold the body safely in the event of a crash. According to Bohlin (as quoted by The New York Times in his 2002 obituary): "It was just a matter of finding a solution that was simple, effective and could be put on conveniently with one hand."

In the interests of safety, Volvo made the new seat belt design available to other car manufacturers for free; it was required on all new American vehicles from 1968 onward. Since 1959, engineers have worked to enhance the three-point belt, but the basic design remains Bohlin's. At the time of Bohlin's death in September 2002, Volvo estimated that the seat belt had saved more than one million lives in the four decades since it was introduced. In the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts save more than 11,000 lives each year.

Jul 17, 1938:
"Wrong Way" Corrigan crosses the Atlantic

Douglas Corrigan, the last of the early glory-seeking fliers, takes off from Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn, New York, on a flight that would finally win him a place in aviation history.

Eleven years earlier, American Charles A. Lindbergh had become an international celebrity with his solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, but that mere footnote in the history of flight was not enough for the Texas-born aviator. In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. In July 1938, Corrigan piloted the single-engine plane nonstop from California to New York. Although the transcontinental flight was far from unprecedented, Corrigan received national attention simply because the press was amazed that his rattletrap aircraft had survived the journey.

Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he filed plans for a transatlantic flight, but aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight, and he was promptly denied. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloudbank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers.

Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, "Just got in from New York. Where am I?" He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. The authorities didn't buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time "Wrong Way" Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway.
17 July Births

1487 – Ismail I of Iran (d. 1524)
1674 – Isaac Watts, English hymnwriter and theologian (d. 1748)
1698 – Pierre Louis Maupertuis, French mathematician and philosopher (d. 1759)
1714 – Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, German philosopher (d. 1762)
1744 – Elbridge Gerry, American politician, 5th Vice President of the United States (d. 1814)
1745 – Peter Ludwig von der Pahlen, Russian general (d. 1826)
1763 – John Jacob Astor, German-American businessman (d. 1848)
1774 – John Wilbur, American minister (d. 1856)
1797 – Hippolyte Delaroche, French painter (d. 1856)
1823 – Leander Clark, American businessman and politician (d. 1910)
1831 – Xianfeng Emperor of China (d. 1861)
1837 – Joseph-Alfred Mousseau, Canadian politician, 6th Premier of Quebec (d. 1886)
1839 – Ephraim Shay, American engineer, invented the Shay locomotive (d. 1916)
1845 – Hugo Treffner, German pedagogue (d. 1912)
1853 – Alexius Meinong, Ukrainian-Austrian philosopher (d. 1920)
1868 – Henri Nathansen, Danish playwright and director (d. 1944)
1870 – Charles Davidson Dunbar, Scottish bagpipe player (d. 1939)
1871 – Lyonel Feininger, German-American painter and illustrator (d. 1956)
1882 – James Somerville, English admiral (d. 1949)
1888 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Ukrainian-Israeli author, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
1889 – Erle Stanley Gardner, American lawyer and author (d. 1970)
1894 – Georges Lemaître, Belgian priest, astronomer, and cosmologist (d. 1966)
1898 – Berenice Abbott, American photographer (d. 1991)
1898 – Osmond Borradaile, Canadian cinematographer (d. 1999)
1898 – George Robert Vincent, American historian (d. 1985)
1899 – James Cagney, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1986)
1900 – Marcel Dalio, French actor (d. 1983)
1901 – Patrick Smith, Irish politician (d. 1982)
1901 – Luigi Chinetti, Italian-American race car driver (d. 1994)
1901 – Bruno Jasieński, Polish poet (d. 1938)
1902 – Arnold Pihlak, Estonian footballer (d. 1985)
1902 – Christina Stead, Australian author (d. 1983)
1910 – James Coyne, Canadian banker, 2nd Governor of the Bank of Canada (d. 2012)
1910 – Barbara O'Neil, American actress (d. 1980)
1910 – Frank Olson, American microbiologist (d. 1953)
1911 – Ted Anderson, English footballer (d. 1979)
1911 – Heinz Lehmann, German-Canadian psychiatrist (d. 1999)
1912 – Erwin Bauer, German race car driver (d. 1958)
1912 – Art Linkletter, Canadian-American radio and television host (d. 2010)
1913 – Bertrand Goldberg, American architect, designed the Marina City Building (d. 1997)
1913 – Marc Swayze, American author and illustrator (d. 2012)
1915 – Fred Ball, American actor (d. 2007)
1917 – Bijon Bhattacharya, Indian stage and film actor (d. 1978)
1917 – Lou Boudreau, American baseball player and manager (d. 2001)
1917 – Phyllis Diller, American comedian, actress, and singer (d. 2012)
1917 – Kenan Evren, Turkish general and politician, 7th President of Turkey
1917 – Christiane Rochefort, French author (d. 1998)
1918 – Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio, Guatemalan politician, President of Guatemala (d. 2003)
1918 – Red Sovine, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1980)
1920 – Gordon Gould, American physicist, invented the laser (d. 2005)
1920 – Juan Antonio Samaranch, Spanish businessman, 7th President of the International Olympic Committee (d. 2010)
1920 – Kenneth Wolstenholme, English sportscaster (d. 2002)
1921 – George Barnes, American guitarist (d. 1977)
1921 – Louis Lachenal, French mountaineer (d. 1955)
1921 – Mary Osborne, American guitarist (d. 1992)
1921 – Robert V. Remini, American historian and author (d. 2013)
1921 – Toni Stone, the first of three women to play Negro league baseball (d. 1996)
1921 – František Zvarík, Slovakian actor (d. 2008)
1923 – John Cooper, English car designer, co-founded the Cooper Car Company (d. 2000)
1924 – Olive Ann Burns, American author (d. 1990)
1924 – Garde Gardom, Canadian lawyer and politician, 26th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia (d. 2013)
1925 – Jimmy Scott, American singer (d. 2014)
1926 – Édouard Carpentier, French-Canadian wrestler (d. 2010)
1928 – Vince Guaraldi, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1976)
1928 – Joe Morello, American jazz drummer (d. 2011)
1929 – Sergei K. Godunov, Russian mathematician
1932 – Quino, Spanish-Argentinian cartoonist
1932 – Johnny Kerr, American basketball player and coach (d. 2009)
1932 – Wojciech Kilar, Polish composer (d. 2013)
1932 – Karla Kuskin, American author and illustrator (d. 2009)
1932 – Hal Riney, American businessman, founded Publicis & Hal Riney (d. 2008)
1933 – Keiko Awaji, Japanese actress (d. 2014)
1933 – Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, Maltese politician, 9th Prime Minister of Malta
1933 – Tony Pithey, South African cricketer (d. 2006)
1935 – Diahann Carroll, American actress and singer
1935 – Peter Schickele, American composer and educator
1935 – Donald Sutherland, Canadian actor
1938 – Hermann Huppen, Belgian author and illustrator
1939 – Andrée Champagne, Canadian actress and politician
1939 – Spencer Davis, Welsh singer-songwriter and guitarist (The Spencer Davis Group)
1939 – Ali Khamenei, Iranian politician, 2nd Supreme Leader of Iran
1940 – Tim Brooke-Taylor, English actor and screenwriter
1941 – Daryle Lamonica, American football player
1941 – Bob Taylor, English cricketer
1941 – Achim Warmbold, German race car driver
1942 – Gale Garnett, New Zealand-Canadian singer and actress
1942 – Connie Hawkins, American basketball player
1942 – Don Kessinger, American baseball player and manager
1942 – Peter Sissons, English journalist
1943 – LaVyrle Spencer, American author
1944 – Mark Burgess, New Zealand cricketer and footballer
1944 – Catherine Schell, Hungarian-English actress
1944 – Carlos Alberto Torres, Brazilian footballer and manager
1945 – Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia
1946 – Alun Armstrong, English actor
1947 – Robert Begerau, German footballer and manager
1947 – Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
1947 – Wolfgang Flür, German drummer (Kraftwerk and Dyko)
1948 – Ron Asheton, American guitarist, songwriter, and actor (The Stooges, Destroy All Monsters, The New Order, and New Race) (d. 2009)
1948 – Luc Bondy, Swiss director
1949 – Geezer Butler, English bass player and songwriter (Black Sabbath, Geezer Butler Band, GZR, and Heaven & Hell)
1949 – Charley Steiner, American sportscaster
1950 – Derek de Lint, Dutch actor
1950 – Damon Harris, American singer (The Temptations) (d. 2013)
1950 – Phoebe Snow, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Sisters of Glory) (d. 2011)
1950 – P. J. Soles, German-American actress
1951 – Lucie Arnaz, American actress, singer, and dancer
1951 – Mark Bowden, American author
1952 – David Hasselhoff, American actor, singer, and producer
1952 – Nicolette Larson, American singer (d. 1997)
1952 – Robert R. McCammon, American author
1954 – Angela Merkel, German politician, 8th Chancellor of Germany
1954 – J. Michael Straczynski, American author
1955 – Christopher Chappell, Canadian cricketer
1955 – Sylvie Léonard, Canadian actress
1955 – Paul Stamets, American mycologist and author
1956 – Julie Bishop, Australian politician
1956 – Robert Romanus, American actor
1956 – Bryan Trottier, Canadian-American ice hockey player and coach
1957 – Fern Britton, English television host
1958 – Wong Kar-wai, Chinese director, producer, and screenwriter
1958 – Thérèse Rein, Australian businesswoman, founded Ingeus
1960 – Kim Barnett, English cricketer
1960 – Mark Burnett, English-American screenwriter and producer
1960 – Nancy Giles, American journalist and actress
1960 – Robin Shou, Hong Kong actor and martial artist
1960 – Dawn Upshaw, American soprano
1960 – Jan Wouters, Dutch footballer and manager
1961 – Guru, American rapper, producer, and actor (Gang Starr) (d. 2010)
1961 – Jeremy Hardy, English comedian and actor
1961 – Roy Pienaar, South African cricketer
1961 – Jonathan Potts, Canadian actor
1962 – Bill Sage, American actor
1963 – Regina Belle, American singer-songwriter and producer
1963 – Matti Nykänen, Finnish ski jumper
1963 – Letsie III of Lesotho
1963 – John Ventimiglia, American actor
1964 – Heather Langenkamp, American actress, producer and director
1965 – Craig Morgan, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1965 – Santiago Segura, Spanish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
1965 – Alex Winter, English-American actor, director, and screenwriter
1966 – Lou Barlow, American guitarist and songwriter (Deep Wound, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and The Folk Implosion)
1966 – Sten Tolgfors, Swedish politician, 30th Minister of Defence for Sweden
1967 – Susan Ashton, American singer
1968 – Beth Littleford, American comedian and actress
1968 – Andre Royo, American actor
1968 – Bitty Schram, American actress
1969 – F. Gary Gray, American actor and director
1969 – Scott Johnson, American cartoonist
1969 – Jaan Kirsipuu, Estonian cyclist
1970 – Mandy Smith, English model and singer
1971 – Calbert Cheaney, American basketball player and coach
1971 – Cory Doctorow, Canadian author and activist
1971 – Wilma van Hofwegen, Dutch swimmer
1971 – Nico Mattan, Belgian cyclist
1971 – Aarne Ruben, Estonian writer
1972 – Elizabeth Cook, American singer and guitarist
1972 – Donny Marshall, American basketball player and sportscaster
1972 – Jason Rullo, American drummer (Symphony X and Redemption)
1972 – Jaap Stam, Dutch footballer
1972 – Eric Williams, American basketball player
1973 – Tony Dovolani, Albanian-American dancer
1973 – Eric Moulds, American football player
1973 – Liam Kyle Sullivan, American comedian and actor
1974 – Laura Macdonald, Scottish saxophonist and composer
1975 – Darude, Finnish DJ and producer
1975 – Harlette, Australian-English fashion designer
1975 – Andre Adams, New Zealand cricketer
1975 – Elena Anaya, Spanish actress
1975 – Cécile de France, Belgian actress
1975 – Carey Hart, American motorcycle racer
1975 – Paul Hinojos, American guitarist and songwriter (At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta, and Sparta)
1975 – Konnie Huq, English television host
1975 – Terence Tao, Australian-American mathematician
1976 – Luke Bryan, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1976 – Gino D'Acampo, Italian chef and author
1976 – Dagmara Dominczyk, Polish-American actress
1976 – Matt Holmes, Australian actor
1976 – Eric Winter, American actor
1977 – Leif Hoste, Belgian cyclist
1977 – Lehmber Hussainpuri, Indian singer
1977 – Marc Savard, Canadian ice hockey player
1978 – Ricardo Arona, Brazilian mixed martial artist
1978 – Panda Bear, American singer-songwriter and keyboard player (Animal Collective and Jane)
1978 – Jason Jennings, American baseball player
1978 – Mike Knox, American wrestler
1978 – Trevor McNevan, Canadian singer-songwriter (Thousand Foot Krutch)
1978 – Émilie Simon, French singer-songwriter
1978 – Katharine Towne, American actress
1979 – Mike Vogel, American actor
1980 – Javier Camuñas, Spanish footballer
1980 – Ryan Miller, American ice hockey player
1981 – Hely Ollarves, Venezuelan runner
1981 – Elpida Romantzi, Greek archer
1981 – Raigo Toompuu, Estonian shot putter
1982 – Omari Banks, Indian cricketer
1982 – Natasha Hamilton, English singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress (Atomic Kitten)
1982 – René Herms, German runner (d. 2009)
1983 – Jessi Cruickshank, Canadian television host
1983 – Ryan Guettler, Australian motocross racer
1983 – Sarah Jones, American actress
1983 – Adam Lind, American baseball player
1984 – David Katoatau, I-Kiribati weightlifter
1984 – Asami Kimura, Japanese singer (Country Musume)
1984 – Samyr Laine, Haitian triple jumper
1984 – Sotiris Leontiou, Greek footballer
1985 – Tom Fletcher, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (McFly)
1985 – Loui Eriksson, Swedish ice hockey player
1985 – Neil McGregor, Scottish footballer
1986 – Dana, South Korean singer, dancer, and actress (The Grace)
1986 – Brando Eaton, American actor
1986 – DeAngelo Smith, American football player
1986 – Lacey Von Erich, American wrestler
1986 – Mojo Rawley, American wrestler
1987 – Jeremih, American singer-songwriter and producer
1987 – Darius Boyd, Australian rugby player
1987 – Jan Charouz, Czech race car driver
1988 – Summer Bishil, American actress
1988 – Guo Yue, Chinese table tennis player
1991 – Mann, American rapper
1992 – Taavi Rand, Estonian ice dancer
1998 – Felipe de Marichalar y Borbón, Spanish son of Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo
2000 – Maria Aragon, Canadian singer

Jul 17, 1941:
Joe DiMaggio ends 56-game hitting streak

On this day in 1941, New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio fails to get a hit against the Cleveland Indians, which brings his historic 56-game hitting streak to an end. The record run had captivated the country for two months.

Joseph Paul DiMaggio was born November 25, 1914, in Martinez, California. In 1891, his father Giuseppe had emigrated from Sicily to the Bay Area, where he made his living as a fisherman (he was later made legendary by Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 novel The Old Man and the Sea.) The DiMaggio family moved to San Francisco’s Italian-dominated North Beach neighborhood the year Joe was born. Joe was the eighth of nine children, the fourth of five boys, two of whom--his older brother Vince and younger brother Dominic--joined him in the major leagues. His two brothers had successful major league careers, but "Joltin’ Joe," arguably the best player of his generation, and one of the greatest of all time, was a phenomenon.

In 1941, DiMaggio was in his sixth season as center fielder for the New York Yankees. He had already helped lead the team to the American League pennant and World Series wins alongside first baseman Lou Gehrig in 1936, ’37 and ’38. In 1939, Gehrig fell ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, later known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and DiMaggio picked up the slack. That year, he led the American League with a .381 batting average and helped the Yankees to their fourth championship in a row; they were the first major league team ever to four-peat. In 1940, DiMaggio led the American League in hitting again at .352, but the Yankees finished two games behind Hank Greenberg’s Detroit Tigers.

On May 15, 1941, DiMaggio began his record-breaking streak against the White Sox in Yankee Stadium with a single and an RBI. As the streak continued, fans across the nation took notice. DiMaggio broke George Sisler’s American League record of 41 consecutive games with a hit on June 29 at Griffith Stadium in Washington, and four days later, on July 2, DiMaggio broke "Wee" Willie Keeler’s major league record streak of 44 games. As the nation followed DiMaggio’s progress and he continued to hit in game after game, the Les Brown Orchestra scored a hit with the popular tune "Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio."

Finally, on July 17 in Cleveland, in a night game in front of 67,468 fans, DiMaggio went hitless against Cleveland pitchers Al Smith and Jim Bagby, Jr. In his first three at-bats, DiMaggio grounded out to third twice against Smith, both on hard-hit balls, and then walked. With Bagby pitching in the eighth inning, DiMaggio hit into a double play, ending a Yankee rally and the greatest hitting streak in major league history. DiMaggio confided to a teammate after the game that by failing to get a hit he had also lost the $10,000 promised to him by Heinz ketchup for matching the number "57" featured on their labels.

DiMaggio won the 1941 American League MVP over Red Sox slugger Ted Williams in spite of the latter’s .406 batting average that season, the last time any major league player hit over .400. DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season after 13 seasons with the Yankees that included 11 pennants and 10 World Series wins. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

Jul 17, 1944:
Port Chicago disaster

An ammunition ship explodes while being loaded in Port Chicago, California, killing 332 people on this day in 1944. The United States' World War II military campaign in the Pacific was in full swing at the time. Poor procedures and lack of training led to the disaster.

Port Chicago, about 30 miles north of San Francisco, was developed into a munitions facility when the Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island, California, could not fully supply the war effort. By the summer of 1944, expansion of the Port Chicago facility allowed for loading two ships at once around the clock. The Navy units assigned to the dangerous loading operations were generally segregated African-American units. For the most part, these men had not been trained in handling munitions. Additionally, safety standards were forgotten in the rush to keep up frenetic loading schedules.

On the evening of July 17, the SS Quinault Victory and SS E.A. Bryan, two merchant ships, were being loaded. The holds were being packed with 4,600 tons of explosives--bombs, depth charges and ammunition. Another 400 tons of explosives were nearby on rail cars. Approximately 320 workers were on or near the pier when, at 10:18 p.m., a series of massive explosions over several seconds destroyed everything and everyone in the vicinity. The blasts were felt as far away as Nevada and the resulting damage extended as far as San Francisco. Every building in Port Chicago was damaged and people were literally knocked off their feet. Smoke and fire extended nearly two miles into the air. The pilot of a plane flying at 9,000 feet in the area claimed that metal chunks from the explosion flew past him.

Nearly two-thirds of the people killed at Port Chicago were African-American enlisted men in the Navy--15 percent of all African-Americans killed during World War II. The surviving men in these units, who helped put out the fires and saw the horrors firsthand, were quickly reassigned to Mare Island. Less than a month later, when ordered to load more munitions, but still having received no training, 258 African-American sailors refused to carry out the orders. Two hundred and eight of them were then sentenced to bad conduct discharges and pay forfeiture. The remaining 50 men were put on trial for general court martial. They were sentenced to between eight and 15 years of hard labor, though two years later all were given clemency. A 1994 review of the trials revealed race played a large factor in the harsh sentences. In December 1999, President Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, one of only three of the 50 convicted sailors known to be alive at the time.

The Port Chicago disaster eventually led to the implementation of far safer procedures for loading ammunition. In addition, greater emphasis was put on proper training in explosives handling and the munitions themselves were altered for greater safety. There is now a national memorial to the victims at the site.

Jul 17, 1945:
Truman records impressions of Stalin

On this day in 1945, President Harry S. Truman records his first impressions of Stalin in his diary.

Truman described his initial meeting with the intimidating Soviet leader as cordial. "Promptly a few minutes before twelve" the president wrote, "I looked up from the desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway. I got to my feet and advanced to meet him. He put out his hand and smiled. I did the same, we shook–and we sat down." After exchanging pleasantries, the two got down to discussing post-World War II policy in Europe. The U.S. was still engaged in a war in the Pacific against Japan, and Truman wanted to get a read on Stalin's plans for the territories that he now controlled in Europe.

Truman told Stalin that his diplomatic style was straightforward and to-the-point, an admission that Truman observed had visibly pleased Stalin. Truman hoped to get the Soviets to join in the U.S. war against Japan. In return, Stalin wanted to impose Soviet control over certain territories annexed at the beginning of the war by Japan and Germany. Truman hinted that although Stalin's agenda was "dynamite" or aggressive, the U.S. now had ammunition to counter the communist leader. Truman had refrained from informing the Soviet leader about the Manhattan Project, which had just successfully tested the world's first atom bomb, but knew that the new weapon strengthened his hand. Truman referred to this secret in his diary as "some dynamite which I am not exploding now."

After their meeting, Truman, Stalin and accompanying advisors "had lunch, talked socially, [and] put on a real show, drinking toasts to everyone" and posing for photographs. Truman closed his entry for that day on a note of confidence. "I can deal with Stalin," he wrote. "He is honest, but smart as hell."

Jul 17, 1945:
Potsdam Conference begins

The final "Big Three" meeting between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain takes place towards the end of World War II. The decisions reached at the conference ostensibly settled many of the pressing issues between the three wartime allies, but the meeting was also marked by growing suspicion and tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.

On July 17, 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam to discuss issues relating to postwar Europe and plans to deal with the ongoing conflict with Japan. By the time the meeting began, U.S. and British suspicions concerning Soviet intentions in Europe were intensifying. Russian armies occupied most of Eastern Europe, including nearly half of Germany, and Stalin showed no inclination to remove his control of the region. Truman, who had only been president since Franklin D. Roosevelt died three months earlier, arrived at the meeting determined to be "tough" with Stalin. He was encouraged in this course of action by news that American scientists had just successfully tested the atomic bomb. The conference soon bogged down on the issue of postwar Germany. The Soviets wanted a united but disarmed Germany, with each of the Allied powers determining the destiny of the defeated power. Truman and his advisors, fearing the spread of Soviet influence over all Germany--and, by extension, all of western Europe--fought for and achieved an agreement whereby each Allied power (including France) would administer a zone of occupation in Germany. Russian influence, therefore, would be limited to its own eastern zone. The United States also limited the amount of reparations Russia could take from Germany. Discussion of the continuing Soviet occupation of Poland floundered.

When the conference ended on August 2, 1945, matters stood much where they had before the meeting. There would be no further wartime conferences. Four days after the conference concluded, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan; on August 9, another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. World War II officially came to an end on August 14, 1945.

Jul 17, 1955:
Disneyland opens

Disneyland, Walt Disney's metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy, and futurism, opens on July 17, 1955. The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California, and soon brought in staggering profits. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 14 million visitors a year, who spend close to $3 billion.

Walt Disney, born in Chicago in 1901, worked as a commercial artist before setting up a small studio in Los Angeles to produce animated cartoons. In 1928, his short film Steamboat Willy, starring the character "Mickey Mouse," was a national sensation. It was the first animated film to use sound, and Disney provided the voice for Mickey. From there on, Disney cartoons were in heavy demand, but the company struggled financially because of Disney's insistence on ever-improving artistic and technical quality. His first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938), took three years to complete and was a great commercial success.

Snow White was followed by other feature-length classics for children, such as Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942). Fantasia (1940), which coordinated animated segments with famous classical music pieces, was an artistic and technical achievement. In Song of the South (1946), Disney combined live actors with animated figures, and beginning with Treasure Island in 1950 the company added live-action movies to its repertoire. Disney was also one of the first movie studios to produce film directly for television, and its Zorro and Davy Crockett series were very popular with children.

In the early 1950s, Walt Disney began designing a huge amusement park to be built near Los Angeles. He intended Disneyland to have educational as well as amusement value and to entertain adults and their children. Land was bought in the farming community of Anaheim, about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and construction began in 1954. In the summer of 1955, special invitations were sent out for the opening of Disneyland on July 17. Unfortunately, the pass was counterfeited and thousands of uninvited people were admitted into Disneyland on opening day. The park was not ready for the public: food and drink ran out, a women's high-heel shoe got stuck in the wet asphalt of Main Street USA, and the Mark Twain Steamboat nearly capsized from too many passengers.

Disneyland soon recovered, however, and attractions such as the Castle, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White's Adventures, Space Station X-1, Jungle Cruise, and Stage Coach drew countless children and their parents. Special events and the continual building of new state-of-the-art attractions encouraged them to visit again. In 1965, work began on an even bigger Disney theme park and resort near Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney died in 1966, and Walt Disney World was opened in his honor on October 1, 1971. Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom were later added to Walt Disney World, and it remains Florida's premier tourist attraction. In 1983, Disneyland Tokyo opened in Japan, and in 1992 Disneyland Paris--or "EuroDisney"--opened to a mixed reaction in Marne-la-Vallee. The newest Disneyland, in Hong Kong, opened its doors in September 2005.

Jul 17, 1956:
High Society, Grace Kelly’s last film, opens

On this day in 1956, the movie-musical High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, opens in theaters around the United States. The film’s tag line--”They’re all together for the first time”--referenced High Society’s all-star cast. High Society marked the last feature film Grace Kelly made before marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco and retiring from acting. High Society, which also featured the musician Louis Armstrong playing himself, was nominated for two Oscars, including Best Song, for Cole Porter’s “True Love.”

High Society was a musical remake of 1940’s Philadelphia Story, which starred Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart. In High Society, Crosby played C.K. Dexter-Haven, a rich man trying to win back his spoiled ex-wife Tracy Lord (Kelly), who is attracted to Mike Connor (Sinatra) but engaged to marry another man.

Grace Kelly, born in 1929, became a movie star in the 1950s with such films as Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), The Country Girl (1954), for which she won a Best Actress Academy Award, and To Catch a Thief (1955). On April 19, 1956, Kelly married Prince Rainier, whom she met in 1955 at the Cannes Film Festival, and never acted in movies again. In 1982, Princess Grace died at age 52 in a car accident.

Sinatra, born in 1915, rose to fame as a singer in the 1940s. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for From Here to Eternity (1953) and was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). Along with High Society, Sinatra starred in movie musicals Guys and Dolls (1955) and Pal Joey (1957) and played Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven (1960), a role that went to George Clooney in the 2001 remake of the same name. Sinatra died in 1998 at age 82.

Crosby, born in 1903, began his music career in the 1920s. As an actor, he starred in the hugely successful White Christmas (1954), won a Best Actor Oscar for Going My Way (1944), was nominated for Oscars for his performances in The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) and The Country Girl, and co-starred in seven popular “Road” movies with Bob Hope between 1940 and 1962. Crosby died at age 74 in 1977.
17 July Deaths

521 – Magnus Felix Ennodius, Latin bishop and poet (b. 474)
924 – Edward the Elder, English king (b. 877)
1070 – Baldwin VI, Count of Flanders (b. 1030)
1453 – John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, English commander (b. 1387)
1531 – Hosokawa Takakuni, Japanese commander (b. 1484)
1571 – Georg Fabricius, German poet and historian (b. 1516)
1588 – Mimar Sinan, Ottoman architect and engineer, designed the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque and Süleymaniye Mosque (b. 1489)
1645 – Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, English politician (b. 1587)
1704 – Pierre-Charles Le Sueur, French-American fur trader and explorer (b. 1657)
1709 – Robert Bolling, English-American planter and merchant (b. 1646)
1762 – Peter III of Russia (b. 1728)
1790 – Adam Smith, Scottish economist and philosopher (b. 1723)
1791 – Martin Dobrizhoffer, Austrian missionary (b. 1717)
1793 – Charlotte Corday, French murderer (b. 1768)
1794 – John Roebuck, English chemist (b. 1718)
1845 – Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1764)
1878 – Aleardo Aleardi, Italian poet (b. 1812)
1879 – Maurycy Gottlieb, Ukrainian painter (b. 1856)
1881 – Jim Bridger, American mountain man and explorer (b. 1804)
1883 – Tự Đức, Vietnamese emperor (b. 1892)
1885 – Jean-Charles Chapais, Canadian politician (b. 1811)
1887 – Dorothea Dix, American activist (b. 1802)
1893 – Frederick A. Johnson, American banker and politician (b. 1833)
1894 – Leconte de Lisle, French poet (b. 1818)
1894 – Josef Hyrtl, Austrian anatomist (b. 1810)
1907 – Hector Malot, French author (b. 1830)
1912 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (b. 1854)
1918 – people of the Shooting of the Romanov family Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1901)
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1899)
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1895)
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia (b. 1897)
Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia (b. 1872)
Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia (b. 1904)
Nicholas II of Russia (b. 1868)

1928 – Giovanni Giolitti, Italian politician, 13th Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1842)
1928 – Álvaro Obregón, Mexican politician, 39th President of Mexico (b. 1880)
1935 – Nie Er, Chinese composer (b. 1912)
1935 – George William Russell, Irish poet and painter (b. 1867)
1944 – William James Sidis, American mathematician (b. 1898)
1945 – Ernst Busch, German field marshal (b. 1885)
1946 – Draža Mihailović, Serbian general (b. 1893)
1950 – Evangeline Booth, English 4th General of The Salvation Army (b. 1865)
1950 – Antonie Nedošinská, Czech actress (b. 1885)
1959 – Billie Holiday, American singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1915)
1959 – Eugene Meyer, American businessman and publisher (b. 1875)
1961 – Ty Cobb, American baseball player and manager (b. 1886)
1967 – John Coltrane, American saxophonist and composer (Miles Davis Quintet) (b. 1926)
1974 – Dizzy Dean, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1910)
1975 – Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Georgian author (b. 1893)
1980 – Don "Red" Barry, American actor and screenwriter (b. 1912)
1980 – Boris Delaunay, Russian mathematician (b. 1890)
1987 – Yujiro Ishihara, Japanese actor and singer (b. 1934)
1987 – Kristjan Palusalu, Estonian wrestler (b. 1908)
1988 – Bruiser Brody, American football player and wrestler (b. 1946)
1989 – Itubwa Amram, Nauruan pastor and politician (b. 1922)
1991 – John Patrick Spiegel, American psychiatrist (b. 1911)
1994 – Jean Borotra, French tennis player (b. 1898)
1995 – Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentinian race car driver (b. 1911)
1996 – Victims of TWA Flight 800 Michel Breistroff, French ice hockey player (b. 1971)
Marcel Dadi, Tunisian-French guitarist (b. 1951)
David Hogan, American composer (b. 1949)
Jed Johnson, American interior designer and director (b. 1948)
Pam Lychner, American real estate agent and activist (b. 1959)

1996 – Chas Chandler, American bass player and producer (The Animals) (b. 1938)
1998 – Lillian Hoban, American author and illustrator (b. 1925)
2000 – Zhao Lirong, Chinese actress (b. 1928)
2001 – Katharine Graham, American publisher (b. 1917)
2003 – David Kelly, Welsh scientist (b. 1944)
2003 – Rosalyn Tureck, American pianist and harpsichord player (b. 1914)
2003 – Walter Zapp, German inventor, invented the Minox (b. 1905)
2004 – Pat Roach, English wrestler and actor (b. 1937)
2005 – Laurel Aitken, Jamaican singer (b. 1927)
2005 – Geraldine Fitzgerald, Irish-American actress (b. 1913)
2005 – Edward Heath, English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1916)
2005 – Gavin Lambert, English screenwriter and author (b. 1924)
2005 – Joe Vialls, Australian journalist and theorist (b. 1944)
2006 – Sam Myers, American singer-songwriter (b. 1936)
2006 – Mickey Spillane, American author (b. 1918)
2007 – Júlio Redecker, Brazilian politician (b. 1956)
2007 – Grant Forsberg, American actor (b. 1959)
2008 – Larry Haines, American actor (b. 1918)
2009 – Walter Cronkite, American journalist (b. 1916)
2009 – Leszek Kołakowski, Polish philosopher (b. 1927)
2010 – Larry Keith, American actor (b. 1931)
2011 – David Ngoombujarra, Australian actor (b. 1967)
2012 – Ottorino Pietro Alberti, Italian archbishop (b. 1927)
2012 – Richard Evatt, English boxer (b. 1973)
2012 – Mrinal Gore, Indian politician (b. 1928)
2012 – Forrest S. McCartney, American general (b. 1931)
2012 – Ms. Melodie, American rapper (b. 1964)
2012 – İlhan Mimaroğlu, Turkish-American composer (b. 1926)
2012 – Morgan Paull, American actor (b. 1944)
2012 – William Raspberry, American journalist (b. 1935)
2012 – Marsha Singh, Indian-English politician (b. 1954)
2012 – Wahengbam Nipamacha Singh, Indian politician (b. 1930)
2012 – William L. Wainwright, American politician (b. 1947)
2013 – Henri Alleg, English-French journalist (b. 1921)
2013 – Peter Appleyard, English-Canadian vibraphone player and composer (b. 1928)
2013 – Vincenzo Cerami, Italian screenwriter and producer (b. 1940)
2013 – Don Flye, American tennis player (b. 1933)
2013 – Ian Gourlay, English general (b. 1920)
2013 – Briony McRoberts, English actress (b. 1957)
2013 – David White, Scottish footballer and manager (b. 1933)

Jul 17, 1967:
Jimi Hendrix drops out as opening act for The Monkees

On July 17, 1967, one of the oddest musical pairings in history comes to an end when Jimi Hendrix dropped out as the opening act for teenybopper sensations The Monkees.

The booking of psychedelic rock god Jimi Hendrix with the made-for-television Monkees was the brainchild of Hendrix's manager, Mike Jeffery, who was seeking greater public exposure for a young client who was a budding star in the UK, but a near-unknown in his native United States. It was in the UK, in fact, that Monkee Mike Nesmith first heard a tape of Hendrix playing while at a dinner party with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. Nesmith and his fellow Monkees Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz became instant Jimi Hendrix fans, and after witnessing his legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, they encouraged their own manager to invite the little-known but highly respected Jimi Hendrix Experience to join their upcoming U.S. tour.

Hendrix himself appears to have had no direct input on the decision, though he'd made his opinion of the Monkees clear several months earlier in an interview with Melody Maker magazine: "Oh God, I hate them! Dishwater....You can't knock anybody for making it, but people like the Monkees?" Nevertheless, Hendrix joined the tour in progress in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 8. Predictably, the reception given to the now-legendary rock icon by the young fans of the bubblegum Monkees was less than worshipful. As Mickey Dolenz later recalled, "Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps and break out into 'Purple Haze,' and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with 'We want Daaavy!' God, was it embarrassing."

Jimi Hendrix managed to get through a total of only seven dates with the Monkees, culminating in his final show on July 17, 1967, which may or may not have ended with Hendrix saluting the crowd with his middle finger. There was no truth to the widely circulated rumor that he'd been kicked off of the tour after protests by the Daughters of the American Revolution that his show was "too erotic."

Jul 17, 1969:
Wheeler visits South Vietnam

Gen. Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conducts four days of conferences and inspections with U.S. commanders in South Vietnam. This was an effort to assess the progress of the South Vietnamese armed forces and to discuss future strategy. Upon his return to Washington, Wheeler reported to President Richard Nixon that the situation in South Vietnam was "good" and that the program to improve the South Vietnamese armed forces was on schedule.

Jul 17, 1972:
South Vietnamese paratroopers fight for Citadel

South Vietnamese paratroopers fight their way to within 200 yards of the Citadel in Quang Tri City, which was described by reporters who accompanied the troops as a city of rubble and ash. Citizens emerging from neighborhoods retaken by the paratroopers joined the refugees, who had been streaming south toward Hue on Route 1 to get out of the way of continued fighting in Quang Tri.

North Vietnamese troops had captured Quang Tri City on May 1 as part of their Nguyen Hue Offensive (later called the "Easter Offensive"), a massive invasion by North Vietnamese forces that had been launched on March 31. The attacking force included 14 infantry divisions and 26 separate regiments, with more than 120,000 troops and approximately 1,200 tanks and other armored vehicles. The main North Vietnamese objectives, in addition to Quang Tri in the north, were Kontum in the Central Highlands, and An Loc farther to the south.

Initially, the South Vietnamese defenders were almost overwhelmed, particularly in the northernmost provinces, where they abandoned their positions in Quang Tri. At Kontum and An Loc, the South Vietnamese were more successful in defending against the attacks, but only after weeks of bitter fighting. Although the defenders suffered heavy casualties, they managed to hold their own with the aid of American advisors and airpower. Fighting continued all over South Vietnam into the summer months.

After months of heavy fighting, the South Vietnamese forces finally retook Quang Tri province entirely in September. With the communist invasion blunted, President Nixon declared that the South Vietnamese victory proved the viability of "Vietnamization," a program that he had instituted in 1969 to increase the combat capability of the South Vietnamese armed forces so U.S. troops could be withdrawn.

Jul 17, 1975:
Superpowers meet in space

As part of a mission aimed at developing space rescue capability, the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 18 and the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 19 rendezvous and dock in space. As the hatch was opened between the two vessels, commanders Thomas P. Safford and Aleksei Leonov shook hands and exchanged gifts in celebration of the first such meeting between the two Cold War adversaries in space. Back on Earth, United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim congratulated the two superpowers for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and praised their unprecedented spirit of cooperation and peace in planning and executing the mission.

During the 44-hour Apollo-Soyuz embrace, the astronauts and cosmonauts conducted experiments, shared meals, and held a joint news conference. Apollo-Soyuz, which came almost three years after the sixth and last U.S. lunar landing, was the final Apollo program mission conducted by NASA. It was fitting that the Apollo program, which first visited the moon under the banner of "We came in peace for all mankind," should end on a note of peace and international cooperation.

Jul 17, 1996:
Flight 800 explodes over Long Island

Shortly after takeoff from New York's Kennedy International Airport, a TWA Boeing 747 jetliner bound for Paris explodes over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 230 people aboard. Flight 800 had just received clearance to initiate a climb to cruise altitude when it exploded without warning. Because the plane was loaded with fuel for the long transatlantic journey, it vaporized within moments, creating a fireball seen almost all along the coastline of Long Island.

The tragedy came just two days before the opening of the XXVI Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and many suspected terrorism. Suspicions of foul play seemed to be confirmed when a number of eyewitnesses reported that they had seen what appeared to be a missile shoot up toward the airline an instant before the explosion. The U.S. Navy and the FBI, in conjunction with the National Safety Transportation Board, launched an extensive investigation of the incident, collecting the scattered wreckage of the aircraft out of the Atlantic and reconstructing the plane in a closely guarded hangar. Despite continuing eyewitness reports, authorities did not come forward with any evidence of a missile or a bomb, and the investigation stretched on.

When it was revealed that several U.S. Navy vessels were training in the Long Island area on the night of the blast, some began to suspect that Flight 800 had been accidentally downed by a navy test missile. U.S. authorities ruled out the possibility of an errant missile strike by the navy, but a number of conspiracists, including former White House press secretary Pierre Salinger, supported the theory. The much-criticized Flight 800 investigation ended in late 1998, with investigators concluding that the explosion resulted from mechanical failure, not from a bomb or a missile.

Jul 17, 2011:
Casey Anthony released from prison

On this day in 2011, Casey Anthony is released from jail in Orlando, Florida, 12 days after being acquitted on charges that she killed her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The Casey Anthony trial riveted Americans, many of whom were stunned when a jury found the 25-year-old not guilty in her young daughter’s death.

Caylee Marie Anthony was last seen alive with her mother on June 16, 2008, leaving the Orlando home they shared with Casey Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy Anthony. Casey Anthony waited 31 days to report her daughter missing, and when questioned by police in mid-July, she told them a nanny had kidnapped her daughter, along with a series of other statements which later proved to be untrue. On October 14, 2008, Anthony was indicted on charges of first-degree murder and lying to police. On December 11 of that year, Caylee Anthony’s skeletal remains were found in a wooded area less than a mile from George and Cindy Anthony’s house.

When the case went to trial in May 2011, the prosecution charged that Casey Anthony killed Caylee by giving her chloroform, covering her mouth with duct tape and later disposing of her body in the woods. Prosecutors argued that Anthony was motivated to commit murder so she could live a carefree, party-girl lifestyle, and they showed the jury photographs of her carousing with friends during the time her child was missing. The defense argued Caylee Anthony had accidentally drowned in her grandparent’s swimming pool, and her death had then been made to look like a homicide by a panicked Casey and her father George. Acknowledging that Casey Anthony had provided false information to the police, her lead attorney, Jose Baez, claimed she had been sexually abused by her father and trained to lie all her life. George Anthony took the witness stand and denied the allegations against him; Casey Anthony never testified during her trial.

Because Caylee Anthony’s body was badly decomposed by the time it was discovered, experts were unable to determine the exact cause and time of her death. Additionally, there were no witnesses or direct physical evidence to link Casey Anthony to the crime. On July 5, 2011, after deliberating for less than 11 hours, a jury found Anthony not guilty on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter of a child. They did convict her on four lesser counts of providing false information to law enforcement officials. The case had been heavily discussed on cable television and Twitter, with Casey Anthony generally being portrayed unfavorably by commentators, and many Americans reacted with shock and outrage to the verdict.

On July 7, Belvin Perry Jr., chief of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Orlando, gave Anthony the maximum sentence—a four-year jail term—for lying to police and sending them on a “wild goose chase.” However, with credit for time served and good behavior, Anthony, behind bars since 2008, was released on July 17 as a crowd of protestors waited outside.

In the aftermath of the case, lawmakers in several states began drafting laws in memory of Caylee Anthony which would make it a felony for a parent or legal guardian not to promptly report a missing child.
18 July Events

390 BC – Roman-Gaulish Wars: Battle of the Allia – a Roman army is defeated by raiding Gauls, leading to the subsequent sacking of Rome.
362 – Roman–Persian Wars: Emperor Julian arrives at Antioch with a Roman expeditionary force (60,000 men) and stays there for nine months to launch a campaign against the Persian Empire.
645 – Chinese forces under general Li Shiji besiege the strategic fortress city of Anshi (Liaoning) during the Goguryeo–Tang War.
1290 – King Edward I of England issues the Edict of Expulsion, banishing all Jews (numbering about 16,000) from England; this was Tisha B'Av on the Hebrew calendar, a day that commemorates many Jewish calamities.
1334 – The bishop of Florence blesses the first foundation stone for the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral, designed by the artist Giotto di Bondone.
1342 – Mu'izz al-Din Husayn defeats the Sarbadars in the Battle of Zava.
1389 – France and England agree to the Truce of Leulinghem, inaugurating a 13-year peace, the longest period of sustained peace during the Hundred Years' War.
1391 – Tokhtamysh–Timur war: Battle of the Kondurcha River – Timur defeats Tokhtamysh of the Golden Horde in present day southeast Russia.
1555 – The College of Arms is reincorporated by Royal charter signed by Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain.
1656 – Polish–Lithuanian forces clash with Sweden and its Brandenburg allies in the start of what becomes known as the Battle of Warsaw which ends in a decisive Swedish victory.
1812 – The Treaties of Orebro ends both the Anglo-Russian and Anglo-Swedish Wars.
1841 – Coronation of Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, on 18 July.
1857 – Louis Faidherbe, French governor of Senegal, arrives to relieve French forces at Kayes, effectively ending El Hajj Umar Tall's war against the French.
1862 – First ascent of Dent Blanche, one of the highest summits in the Alps.
1863 – American Civil War: Second Battle of Fort Wagner – one of the first formal African American military units, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, supported by several white regiments, attempts an unsuccessful assault on Confederate-held Battery Wagner.
1870 – The First Vatican Council decrees the dogma of papal infallibility.
1914 – The U.S. Congress forms the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, giving official status to aircraft within the U.S. Army for the first time.
1925 – Adolf Hitler publishes his personal manifesto Mein Kampf.
1936 – An army uprising in Spanish Morocco starts Spanish Civil War.
1942 – World War II: the Germans test fly the Messerschmitt Me 262 using its jet engines for the first time.
1944 – World War II: Hideki Tōjō resigns as Prime Minister of Japan because of numerous setbacks in the war effort.
1966 – Human spaceflight: Gemini 10 is launched from Cape Kennedy on a 70-hour mission that includes docking with an orbiting Agena target vehicle.
1968 – Intel is founded in Mountain View, California.
1969 – After a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a bridge and his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, dies.
1976 – Nadia Comăneci became the first person in Olympic Games history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
1982 – 268 campesinos ("peasants" or "country people") are slain in the Plan de Sánchez massacre in Ríos Montt's Guatemala.
1984 – McDonald's massacre in San Ysidro, California: in a fast-food restaurant, James Oliver Huberty opens fire, killing 21 people and injuring 19 others before being shot dead by police.
1986 – A tornado is broadcast live on KARE television in Minnesota when the station's helicopter pilot makes a chance encounter.
1992 – The ten victims of the La Cantuta massacre disappear from their university in Lima.
1994 – The bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentine Jewish Community Center) in Buenos Aires kills 85 people (mostly Jewish) and injures 300.
1994 – Rwandan Genocide: The Rwandan Patriotic Front takes control of Gisenyi and north western Rwanda, forcing the interim government into Zaire and ending the genocide.
1995 – On the Caribbean island of Montserrat, the Soufrière Hills volcano erupts. Over the course of several years, it devastates the island, destroying the capital and forcing most of the population to flee.
1996 – Storms provoke severe flooding on the Saguenay River, beginning one of Quebec's costliest natural disasters ever: the Saguenay Flood.
1996 – Battle of Mullaitivu: the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam capture the Sri Lanka Army's base, killing over 1200 soldiers.
2012 – At least 7 people are killed and 32 others are injured after a bomb explodes on an Israeli tour bus at Burgas Airport, Bulgaria.
2013 – The Government of Detroit, with up to $20 billion in debt, files for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Jul 18, 64:
Fire of Rome

A fire erupts in Rome, spreading rapidly throughout the market area in the center of the city. When the flames finally died out more than a week later, nearly two-thirds of Rome had been destroyed.

Emperor Nero used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more orderly Greek style and began construction on a massive palace called the Domus Aureus. Some speculated that the emperor had ordered the burning of Rome to indulge his architectural tastes, but he was away in Antium when the conflagration began. According to later Roman historians, Nero blamed members of the mysterious Christian cult for the fire and launched the first Roman persecution of Christians in response.

Jul 18, 64:
Nero's Rome burns

The great fire of Rome breaks out and destroys much of the city on this day in the year 64. Despite the well-known stories, there is no evidence that the Roman emperor, Nero, either started the fire or played the fiddle while it burned. Still, he did use the disaster to further his political agenda.

The fire began in the slums of a district south of the legendary Palatine Hill. The area's homes burned very quickly and the fire spread north, fueled by high winds. During the chaos of the fire, there were reports of heavy looting. The fire ended up raging out of control for nearly three days. Three of Rome's 14 districts were completely wiped out; only four were untouched by the tremendous conflagration. Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless.

Although popular legend holds that Emperor Nero fiddled while the city burned, this account is wrong on several accounts. First, the fiddle did not even exist at the time. Instead, Nero was well known for his talent on the lyre; he often composed his own music. More importantly, Nero was actually 35 miles away in Antium when the fire broke out. In fact, he let his palace be used as a shelter.

Legend has long blamed Nero for a couple of reasons. Nero did not like the aesthetics of the city and used the devastation of the fire in order to change much of it and institute new building codes throughout the city. Nero also used the fire to clamp down on the growing influence of Christians in Rome. He arrested, tortured and executed hundreds of Christians on the pretext that they had something to do with the fire.

Jul 18, 1792:
Naval hero John Paul Jones dies in Paris

On this day in 1792, the Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones dies in his Paris apartment, where he was still awaiting a commission as the United States consul to Algiers. Commander Jones, remembered as one of the most daring and successful naval commanders of the American Revolution, was born in Scotland, on July 6, 1747. He became an apprentice to a merchant at 13 and soon went to sea, traveling first to the West Indies and then to North America as a young man.

In Virginia at the onset of the American Revolution, Jones sided with the Patriots and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775. After departing from Brest, Jones successfully executed raids on two forts in England's Whitehaven Harbor, despite a disgruntled crew more interested in gain than honor. Jones then continued to his home territory of Kirkcudbright Bay, Scotland, where he intended to abduct the earl of Selkirk and then exchange him for American sailors held captive by Britain. Although he did not find the earl at home, Jones' crew was able to steal all his silver, including his wife's teapot, still containing her breakfast tea. From Scotland, Jones sailed across the Irish Sea to Carrickfergus, where his Ranger captured the HMS Drake after delivering fatal wounds to the British ship`s captain and lieutenant.

In September 1779, Jones fought one of the fiercest battles in naval history when he led the USS Bonhomme Richard frigate, named for Benjamin Franklin, in an engagement with the 50-gun British warship HMS Serapis. After the Bonhomme Richard was struck, it began taking on water and caught fire. When the British captain of the Serapis ordered Jones to surrender, he famously replied, "I have not yet begun to fight!" A few hours later, the captain and crew of the Serapis admitted defeat and Jones took command of the British ship.

One of the greatest naval commanders in history, Jones is remembered as a Father of the American Navy, along with fellow Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Barry. At the conclusion of the American War for Independence, Jones briefly served Empress Catherine II of Russia, before retiring to Paris. John Paul Jones is buried in a crypt at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland, where a Marine honor guard stands at attention in his honor whenever the crypt is open to the public.

Jul 18, 1863:
Assault of Battery Wagner and death of Robert Gould Shaw

On this day, Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 272 of his troops are killed in an assault on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. Shaw was commander of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, perhaps the most famous regiment of African-American troops during the war.

Fort Wagner stood on Morris Island, guarding the approach to Charleston harbor. It was a massive earthwork, 600 feet wide and made from sand piled 30 feet high. The only approach to the fort was across a narrow stretch of beach bounded by the Atlantic on one side and a swampy marshland on the other. Union General Quincy Gillmore headed an operation in July 1863 to take the island and seal the approach to Charleston.

Shaw and his 54th Massachusetts were chosen to lead the attack of July 18. Shaw was the scion of an abolitionist family and a veteran of the 1862 Shenandoah Valley and Antietam campaigns. The regiment included two sons of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the grandson of author and poet Sojourner Truth.

Union artillery battered Fort Wagner all day on July 18, but the barrage did little damage to the fort and its garrison. At 7:45 p.m., the attack commenced. Yankee troops had to march 1,200 yards down the beach to the stronghold, facing a hail of bullets from the Confederates. Shaw's troops and other Union regiments penetrated the walls at two points but did not have sufficient numbers to take the fort. Over 1,500 Union troops fell or were captured to the Confederates' 222.

Despite the failure, the battle proved that African-American forces could not only hold their own but also excel in battle. The experience of Shaw and his regiment was memorialized in the critically acclaimed 1990 movie Glory, starring Mathew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman. Washington won an Academy Award for his role in the film.

Jul 18, 1914:
Singing Wobbly Joe Hill sentenced to death

Convicted of murder on meager evidence, the singing Wobbly Joe Hill is sentenced to be executed in Utah.

A native of Sweden who immigrated to the U.S. in 1879, Joe Hill joined the International Workers of the World (IWW) in 1910. The IWW was an industrial union that rejected the capitalist system and dreamed one day of leading a national workers' revolution. Members of the IWW--known as Wobblies--were especially active in the western United States, where they enjoyed considerable success in organizing mistreated and exploited workers in the mining, logging, and shipping industries.

Beginning in 1908, the IWW began encouraging its membership to express their beliefs through song. The IWW published its Little Red Song Book, otherwise known as the I.W.W. Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent. A few years later, the witty and handsome Joe Hill became one of the Wobblies' leading singers and songwriters. Hill composed many of the IWW's best-loved anthems, including "The Preacher of the Slave" which introduced the phrase "pie in the sky." By 1915, Hill was one of the most famous Wobblies in the nation.

Public notoriety, however, could prove dangerous for a radical union man. In 1915, Hill was arrested and charged with murdering two Salt Lake City policemen during a grocery store robbery. Although the evidence against Hill was tenuous, a jury of conservative Utahans convicted him on this day in 1914 and he was sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad the following year.

Ever since, scholars have debated whether Hill was actually guilty or was railroaded because of his radical politics. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Hill became a powerful martyr for the IWW cause by telegramming his comrades with a famous last-minute message: "Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize."

Jul 18, 1918:
Allies begin major counter-offensive in Second Battle of the Marne

Three days after a German offensive near the Marne River in the Champagne region of France meets with failure, Allied forces launch a major counterattack on July 18, 1918, ending the Second Battle of the Marne and decisively turning the tide of the war toward an Allied victory.

After forces commanded by the German general Erich von Ludendorff fall painfully short of their objectives near the city of Reims on July 15–largely due to the deceptive Allied strategy of planting a line of false, lightly-manned trenches in front that would leave their real front line undamaged by the preliminary German bombardment–the Allied supreme commander, Ferdinand Foch, authorized a major counteroffensive. The Allied attack, which began in the early morning hours of July 18, 1918, was carried out by 24 divisions of the French army, as well as troops from the United States, Britain and Italy, pressing forward in some 350 tanks against the German salient.

As Crown Prince Wilhelm, a commander of the German forces at the Marne, recalled of the events of July 18: "Without artillery preparation, simply following the sudden rolling barrage, supported by numerous deep-flying aircraft and with unprecedented masses of tanks, the enemy infantry–including a number of American divisions–unleashed the storm against the 9th and 7th Armies at 5:40 in the morning." The French 6th and 10th Armies led the infantry advance, pushing forward five miles on the first day of the offensive alone. Meanwhile, the French 5th and 9th Armies launched supplementary attacks to the west. By the time the Germans ordered a retreat on July 20, the Allied counteroffensive in the Second Battle of the Marne had driven the Germans back from Chateau-Thierry to Soissons on the Aisne River, effectively reversing all the gains made in the region during the entire German spring offensive of 1918.

Casualties at the Marne were staggering, with Germany losing 168,000 soldiers to death or injury, compared with 95,000 for the French, 13,000 for the British and 12,000 for the U.S. After the disaster at the Marne, Ludendorff was forced to call off a planned German offensive further north, in the Flanders region stretching between France and Belgium, which he had envisioned as Germany's best hope of victory. In the end, the Second Battle of the Marne marked the last large-scale German offensive of World War I.

Jul 18, 1925:
Hitler publishes Mein Kampf

Seven months after being released from Landsberg jail, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler publishes the first volume of his personal manifesto, Mein Kampf. Dictated by Hitler during his nine-month stay in prison, Mein Kampf, or "My Struggle," was a bitter and turgid narrative filled with anti-Semitic outpourings, disdain for morality, worship of power, and the blueprints for his plan of Nazi world domination. The autobiographical work soon became the bible of Germany's Nazi Party.

In the early 1920s, the ranks of Hitler's Nazi Party swelled with resentful Germans who sympathized with the party's bitter hatred of Germany's democratic government, leftist politics, and Jews. In November 1923, after the German government resumed the payment of war reparations to Britain and France, the Nazis launched the "Beer Hall Putsch"--their first attempt at seizing the German government by force. Hitler hoped that his nationalist revolution in Bavaria would spread to the dissatisfied German army, which in turn would bring down the government in Berlin. However, the uprising was immediately suppressed, and Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for high treason.

Sent to Landsberg jail, he spent his time dictating his autobiography, Mein Kampf, and working on his oratorical skills. After nine months in prison, political pressure from supporters of the Nazi Party forced his release. During the next few years, Hitler and the other leading Nazis reorganized their party as a fanatical mass movement that was able to gain a majority in the German parliament--the Reichstag--by legal means in 1932. In the same year, President Paul von Hindenburg defeated a presidential bid by Hitler, but in January 1933 he appointed Hitler chancellor, hoping that the powerful Nazi leader could be brought to heel as a member of the president's cabinet.

However, Hindenburg underestimated Hitler's political audacity, and one of the new chancellor's first acts was to use the burning of the Reichstag building as a pretext for calling general elections. The police under Nazi Hermann Goering suppressed much of the party's opposition before the election, and the Nazis won a bare majority. Shortly after, Hitler took on absolute power through the Enabling Acts. In 1934, Hindenburg died, and the last remnants of Germany's democratic government were dismantled, leaving Hitler the sole master of a nation intent on war and genocide.

Jul 18, 1925:
Mein Kampf is published

On this day in 1925, Volume One of Adolf Hitler's philosophical autobiography, Mein Kampf, is published. It was a blueprint of his agenda for a Third Reich and a clear exposition of the nightmare that will envelope Europe from 1939 to 1945. The book sold a total of 9,473 copies in its first year.

Hitler began composing his tome while sitting in Landsberg prison, convicted of treason for his role in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch in which he and his minions attempted to stage a coup and grasp control of the government in Bavaria. It ended in disaster, with some allies deserting and others falling into the hands of the authorities. Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment (he would serve only nine months). His time in the old fortress at Landsberg was hardly brutal; he was allowed guests and gifts, and was treated as something of a cult hero. He decided to put his leisure time to good use and so began dictating Volume One of his opus magnus to Rudolph Hess, a loyal member of the German National Socialist Party and fellow revolutionary.

The first part of Mein Kampf, subtitled "A Reckoning," is a 400-plus page diatribe on the problems besetting Germany—the French, who wished to dismember Germany; the lack of lebesraum, "living space," and the need to expand east into Russia; and the baleful influence of "mongrel" races. For Hitler, the state was not an economic entity, but a racial one. Racial purity was an absolute necessity for a revitalized Germany. "[F]or men do not perish as the result of lost wars, but by the loss... of pure blood."

As for leadership, Hitler's Third Reich would mimic the Prussian ideal of absolute authoritarian rule. "There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons... Surely every man will have advisers... but the decision will be made by one man."

So there it was: War with France, war with Russia, the elimination of "impure" races, and absolute dictatorship. Hitler laid out his political agenda a full 14 years before the outbreak of war.

Volume Two of Mein Kampf, focusing on national socialism, was published in 1927. Sales of the complete work remained mediocre throughout the 1920s. It was not until 1933, the first year of Hitler's tenure as chancellor of Germany, that sales soared to over 1 million. Its popularity reached the point where it became a ritual to give a newly married couple a copy.
18 July Births

1501 – Isabella of Austria (d. 1526)
1504 – Heinrich Bullinger, Swiss pastor and reformer (d. 1575)
1552 – Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 1612)
1634 – Johannes Camphuys, Dutch politician, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (d. 1695)
1659 – Hyacinthe Rigaud, French painter (d. 1743)
1670 – Giovanni Bononcini, Italian cellist and composer (d. 1747)
1718 – Saverio Bettinelli, Italian poet, playwright, and critic (d. 1808)
1720 – Gilbert White, English ornithologist (d. 1793)
1724 – Duchess Maria Antonia of Bavaria (d. 1780)
1797 – Immanuel Hermann Fichte, German philosopher (d. 1879)
1811 – William Makepeace Thackeray, English author (d. 1863)
1818 – Louis Gerhard De Geer, Swedish politician, 1st Prime Minister of Sweden (d. 1896)
1821 – Pauline Viardot, French soprano and composer (d. 1910)
1837 – Vasil Levski, Bulgarian activist (d. 1873)
1845 – Tristan Corbière, French poet (d. 1875)
1848 – W. G. Grace, English cricketer (d. 1915)
1850 – Rose Hartwick Thorpe, American poet (d. 1939)
1852 – Anthony Sweijs, Dutch target shooter (d. 1937)
1853 – Hendrik Lorentz, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1928)
1862 – Nikolai Yudenich, Russian general (d. 1933)
1864 – Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden, English politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer (d. 1937)
1867 – Margaret Brown, American philanthropist and activist (d. 1932)
1871 – Sada Yacco, Japanese actress and dancer (d. 1946)
1879 – Adolf Spinnler, Swiss gymnast (d. 1951)
1881 – Larry McLean, Canadian-American baseball player (d. 1921)
1884 – Alberto di Jorio, Italian cardinal (d. 1979)
1886 – Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., American general (d. 1945)
1887 – Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian soldier and politician, Minister President of Norway (d. 1945)
1889 – Kōichi Kido, Japanese politician, 13th Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan (d. 1977)
1890 – Frank Forde, Australian politician, 15th Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1983)
1892 – Arthur Friedenreich, Brazilian footballer (d. 1969)
1895 – Machine Gun Kelly, American gangster (d. 1954)
1895 – Olga Spessivtseva, Russian ballerina (d. 1991)
1897 – Ernest Eldridge, English race car driver (d. 1935)
1898 – John Stuart, Scottish actor (d. 1979)
1899 – Ernst Scheller, German politician, Mayor of Marburg (d. 1942)
1900 – Nathalie Sarraute, French lawyer and author (d. 1999)
1902 – Jessamyn West, American author (d. 1984)
1903 – Chill Wills, American actor and singer (d. 1978)
1906 – S. I. Hayakawa, Canadian-American educator and politician (d. 1992)
1906 – Clifford Odets, American director, playwright, and screenwriter (d. 1963)
1908 – Peace Pilgrim, American activist (d. 1981)
1908 – Lupe Vélez, Mexican-American actress and dancer (d. 1944)
1909 – Andrei Gromyko, Soviet economist and politician, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Soviet Union (d. 1989)
1909 – Mohammed Daoud Khan, Afghan politician, 1st President of Afghanistan (d. 1978)
1909 – Harriet Nelson, American singer and actress (d. 1994)
1910 – Diptendu Pramanick, Indian businessman (d. 1989)
1911 – Hume Cronyn, Canadian-American actor, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2003)
1912 – Max Rousié, French rugby player (d. 1950)
1913 – Red Skelton, American actor and singer (d. 1997)
1913 – Marvin Miller, American actor (d. 1985)
1914 – Gino Bartali, Italian cyclist (d. 2000)
1916 – Johnny Hopp, American baseball player (d. 2003)
1917 – Henri Salvador, French singer (d. 2008)
1918 – Nelson Mandela, South African lawyer and politician, 1st President of South Africa, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2013)
1920 – Eric Brandon, English race car driver (d. 1982)
1921 – Peter Austin, English brewer, founded Ringwood Brewery (d. 2014)
1921 – Aaron T. Beck, American psychiatrist and educator
1921 – John Glenn, American colonel, astronaut, and politician
1921 – Richard Leacock, English-French director and producer (d. 2011)
1922 – Thomas Kuhn, American physicist, historian, and philosopher (d. 1996)
1923 – Jerome H. Lemelson, American engineer (d. 1997)
1924 – Will D. Campbell, American minister, author, and activist (d. 2013)
1924 – Inge Sørensen, Danish swimmer (d. 2011)
1925 – Hubert Doggart, English cricketer
1925 – Shirley Strickland, Australian runner (d. 2004)
1925 – Friedrich Zimmermann, German lawyer and politician, German Federal Minister of the Interior (d. 2012)
1926 – Margaret Laurence, Canadian author (d. 1987)
1926 – Robert Sloman, English actor and journalist (d. 2005)
1927 – Don Bagley, American bassist (d. 2012)
1927 – Kurt Masur, Polish-German conductor
1928 – Andrea Gallo, Italian priest (d. 2013)
1928 – Billy Harrell, American baseball player (d. 2014)
1928 – Franca Rame, Italian actress and playwright (d. 2013)
1929 – Dick Button, American figure skater
1929 – Screamin' Jay Hawkins, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (d. 2000)
1930 – Burt Kwouk, English actor
1932 – Robert Ellis Miller, American director
1932 – Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet and playwright
1933 – Syd Mead, American set designer
1933 – Jean Yanne, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2003)
1934 – Darlene Conley, American actress (d. 2007)
1934 – Roger Reynolds, American composer and educator
1935 – Jayendra Saraswathi, Indian guru, 69th Shankaracharya
1936 – Ted Harris, Canadian ice hockey player
1937 – Roald Hoffmann, Polish chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
1937 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (d. 2005)
1938 – Ian Stewart, Scottish keyboard player (The Rolling Stones and Rocket 88) (d. 1985)
1938 – Paul Verhoeven, Dutch director, producer, and screenwriter
1939 – Brian Auger, English keyboard player (Brian Auger and the Trinity, CAB, and The Steampacket)
1939 – Dion DiMucci, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Dion and the Belmonts)
1939 – Edward Gramlich, American economist and educator (d. 2007)
1939 – Jerry Moore, American football player and coach
1940 – James Brolin, American actor, director, and producer
1940 – Joe Torre, American baseball player and manager
1941 – Frank Farian, German songwriter and producer
1941 – Lonnie Mack, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1941 – Martha Reeves, American singer, actress, and politician (Martha and the Vandellas and The Fascinations)
1942 – Adolf Ogi, Swiss politician, 84th President of the Swiss Confederation
1942 – Bobby Susser, American songwriter and producer
1942 – Giacinto Facchetti, Italian footballer (d. 2006)
1943 – Joseph J. Ellis, American historian and author
1944 – David Hemery, English hurdler
1946 – Leo Madder, Belgian actor and director
1946 – Doug McFarland, American politician and academic
1947 – Steve Forbes, American publisher and politician
1947 – Steve Mahoney, Canadian politician
1948 – Carlos Colón, Sr., Puerto Rican wrestler
1948 – Hartmut Michel, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
1949 – Dennis Lillee, Australian cricketer
1950 – Jerome Barkum, American football player
1950 – Richard Branson, English businessman, founded Virgin Group
1950 – Kostas Eleftherakis, Greek footballer
1950 – Glenn Hughes, American singer, dancer, and actor (Village People) (d. 2001)
1950 – Jack Layton, Canadian politician (d. 2011)
1950 – Mark Udall, American politician
1951 – Elio Di Rupo, Belgian politician, 68th Prime Minister of Belgium
1951 – Margo Martindale, American actress
1953 – Warren Wiebe, American singer (d. 1998)
1954 – Ricky Skaggs, American singer-songwriter, mandolin player, and producer (New South)
1954 – Tiit Trummal, Estonian architect
1955 – Terry Chambers, English drummer (XTC and Dragon)
1955 – Bernd Fasching, Austrian painter and sculptor
1956 – Razor Shines, American baseball player, manager, and coach
1957 – Nick Faldo, English golfer
1957 – Keith Levene, English guitarist, songwriter, and producer (Public Image Ltd, The Flowers of Romance, and The Clash)
1959 – Pauline Quirke, English actress
1960 – Anne-Marie Johnson, American actress
1961 – M.J. Alexander, American author and photographer
1961 – Elizabeth McGovern, American actress
1961 – Alan Pardew, English football player and manager
1961 – Pasi Rautiainen, Finnish football player, coach and manager
1962 – Lee Arenberg, American actor
1962 – Jensen Buchanan, American actress
1962 – Jack Irons, American drummer (Spinnerette, What Is This?, The Wallflowers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Eleven)
1962 – Shaun Micallef, Australian comedian, actor, screenwriter, and producer
1963 – Marc Girardelli, Austrian skier
1963 – Mike Greenwell, American baseball player
1963 – Al Snow, American wrestler and actor
1963 – Martín Torrijos, Panamanian politician, 35th President of Panama
1964 – Wendy Williams, American talk show host, actress, and author
1965 – Jim Bob Duggar, American real estate agent, author, and politician
1965 – Vesselina Kasarova, Bulgarian soprano
1966 – Lori Alan, American actress
1966 – Dan O'Brien, American decathlete
1967 – Vin Diesel, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
1968 – Grant Bowler, New Zealand-Australian actor
1968 – Alex Désert, Haitian-American actor and singer (Hepcat)
1969 – Elizabeth Gilbert, American author
1969 – Great Sasuke, Japanese wrestler and politician
1970 – Cheryl Casone, American journalist
1971 – Penny Hardaway, American basketball player
1971 – Sarah McLeod, New Zealand actress
1973 – Jasse Jalonen, Finnish footballer
1974 – Alan Morrison, English poet
1975 – M.I.A., English rapper and producer
1975 – Torii Hunter, American baseball player
1975 – Daron Malakian, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (System of a Down and Scars on Broadway)
1976 – Valerie Cruz, American actress
1976 – Elsa Pataky, Spanish-American actress
1977 – Dylan Lane, American game show host
1977 – Alexander Morozevich, Russian chess player
1977 – Kelly Reilly, English actress
1977 – Alfian Sa'at, Singaporean poet and playwright
1978 – Shane Horgan, Irish rugby player
1978 – Annie Mac, Irish radio and television host
1978 – Verónica Romeo, Spanish singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
1978 – Ben Sheets, American baseball player
1978 – Mélissa Theuriau, French journalist
1978 – Adabel Guerrero, Argentine burlesque dancer, actress, and supervedette
1979 – Adam Birch, American wrestler
1979 – Deion Branch, American football player
1979 – Jared Hess, American director and screenwriter
1979 – Jason Weaver, American actor and singer
1980 – Kristen Bell, American actress, singer, and producer
1980 – Ryōko Hirosue, Japanese actress and singer
1981 – Dennis Seidenberg, German ice hockey player
1982 – Ryan Cabrera, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1982 – Priyanka Chopra, Indian model, actress, and singer, Miss World 2000
1982 – Dominika Luzarová, Czech tennis player
1983 – Carlos Diogo, Uruguayan footballer
1983 – Aaron Gillespie, American singer-songwriter and drummer (Underoath and The Almost)
1983 – Mikk Pahapill, Estonian decathlete
1983 – Jan Schlaudraff, German footballer
1984 – Allen Craig, American baseball player
1984 – Lee Barnard, English footballer
1985 – Hopsin, American rapper, producer, and actor
1985 – Chace Crawford, American actor
1985 – Panagiotis Lagos, Greek footballer
1986 – Deniss Karpak, Estonian sailor
1986 – Natalia Mikhailova, Russian ice dancer
1988 – Änis Ben-Hatira, German-Tunisian footballer
1988 – Sofia Kvatsabaia, Georgian tennis player
1988 – César Villaluz, Mexican footballer
1989 – Jamie Benn, Canadian ice hockey player
1989 – Sebastian Mielitz, German footballer
1989 – Yohan Mollo, French footballer
1991 – Karina Pasian, American singer and pianist
1991 – Eugenio Suárez, Venezuelan baseball player
1993 – Lee Taemin, South Korean singer, dancer, and actor (Shinee)

Jul 18, 1929:
Hunter S. Thompson is born

Pioneer of "gonzo" journalism, Hunter S. Thompson is born in Louisville, Ky., on this day.

By age 10, Thompson was publishing his own two-page newspaper, which he sold for four cents. By his early teens, he had already launched on the life of drinking, vandalism, and pyromania that would turn him into a bestselling writer. At age 18, he was jailed for robbery. After serving 30 days of his 50-day sentence, he was released after promising to join the Air Force.

While serving on a Pensacola, Florida, Air Force base, he became sports editor of the base newspaper and later went to work for a paper in New York, where he was fired for kicking a vending machine. He wrote conventional journalism pieces for various magazines, and in 1967 he expanded one of his articles into his first book, Hells Angels, which became a bestseller. In 1970, while covering the Kentucky Derby, Thompson went on a weeklong bender and developed severe writer's block. He handed his scrawled notes to the copy boys his editors sent after him, and the result, "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved," was hailed as a landmark in journalism. One of his editors dubbed the new style "gonzo," for its wild, careening style.

In 1972, Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas became a bestseller, as did his 1972 Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, about the Nixon-McGovern presidential election. Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colo., on February 20, 2005, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 76 years old.

Jul 18, 1936:
Spanish Civil War breaks out

On July 18, 1936, the Spanish Civil War begins as a revolt by right-wing Spanish military officers in Spanish Morocco and spreads to mainland Spain. From the Canary Islands, General Francisco Franco broadcasts a message calling for all army officers to join the uprising and overthrow Spain's leftist Republican government. Within three days, the rebels captured Morocco, much of northern Spain, and several key cities in the south. The Republicans succeeded in putting down the uprising in other areas, including Madrid, Spain's capital. The Republicans and the Nationalists, as the rebels were called, then proceeded to secure their respective territories by executing thousands of suspected political opponents. Meanwhile, Franco flew to Morocco and prepared to bring the Army of Africa over to the mainland.

In 1931, Spanish King Alfonso XIII authorized elections to decide the government of Spain, and voters overwhelmingly chose to abolish the monarchy in favor of a liberal republic. Alfonso went into exile, and the Second Republic, initially dominated by middle-class liberals and moderate socialists, was proclaimed. During the first two years of the Republic, organized labor and leftist radicals forced widespread liberal reforms, and the independence-minded region of Catalonia and the Basque provinces achieved virtual autonomy.

The landed aristocracy, the church, and a large military clique opposed the Republic, and in November 1933 conservative forces regained control of the government in elections. In response, socialists launched a revolution in the mining districts of Asturias, and Catalan nationalists rebelled in Barcelona. General Franco crushed the so-called October Revolution on behalf of the conservative government, and in 1935 he was appointed army chief of staff. In February 1936, new elections brought the Popular Front, a leftist coalition, to power, and Franco, a strict monarchist, was sent to an obscure command in the Canary Islands off Africa.

Fearing that the liberal government would give way to Marxist revolution, army officers conspired to seize power. After a period of hesitation, Franco agreed to join the military conspiracy, which was scheduled to begin in Morocco at 5 a.m. on July 18 and then in Spain 24 hours later. The difference in time was to allow the Army of Africa time to secure Morocco before being transported to Spain's Andalusian coast by the navy.

On the afternoon of July 17, the plan for the next morning was discovered in the Moroccan town of Melilla, and the rebels were forced into premature action. Melilla, Ceuta, and Tetuan were soon in the hands of the Nationalists, who were aided by conservative Moroccan troops that also opposed the leftist government in Madrid. The Republican government learned of the revolt soon after it broke out but took few actions to prevent its spread to the mainland.

On July 18, Spanish garrisons rose up in revolt all across Spain. Workers and peasants fought the uprising, but in many cities the Republican government denied them weapons, and the Nationalists soon gained control. In conservative regions, such as Old Castile and Navarre, the Nationalists seized control with little bloodshed, but in other regions, such as the fiercely independent city of Bilbao, they didn't dare leave their garrisons. The Nationalist revolt in the Spanish navy largely failed, and warships run by committees of sailors were instrumental in securing a number of coastal cities for the Republic. Nevertheless, Franco managed to ferry his Army of Africa over from Morocco, and during the next few months Nationalist forces rapidly overran much of the Republican-controlled areas in central and northern Spain. Madrid was put under siege in November.

During 1937, Franco unified the Nationalist forces under the command of the Falange, Spain's fascist party, while the Republicans fell under the sway of the communists. Germany and Italy aided Franco with an abundance of planes, tanks, and arms, while the Soviet Union aided the Republican side. In addition, thousands of communists and other radicals from France, the USSR, America, and elsewhere formed the International Brigades to aid the Republican cause. The most significant contribution of these foreign units was the successful defense of Madrid until the end of the war.

In June 1938, the Nationalists drove to the Mediterranean Sea and cut Republican territory in two. Later in the year, Franco mounted a major offensive against Catalonia. In January 1939, its capital, Barcelona, was captured, and soon after, the rest of Catalonia fell. With the Republican cause all but lost, its leaders attempted to negotiate a peace, but Franco refused. On March 28, 1939, the Republicans finally surrendered Madrid, bringing the Spanish Civil War to an end. Up to a million lives were lost in the conflict, the most devastating in Spanish history. Franco subsequently served as dictator of Spain until his death in 1975.

Jul 18, 1940:
FDR nominated for unprecedented third term

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America's 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms.

Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide.

On July 18, 1940, Roosevelt was nominated for a third presidential term at the Democratic Party convention in Chicago. The president received some criticism for running again because there was an unwritten rule in American politics that no U.S. president should serve more than two terms. The custom dated back to the country's first president, George Washington, who in 1796 declined to run for a third term in office. Nevertheless, Roosevelt believed it was his duty to continue serving and lead his country through the mounting crisis in Europe, where Hitler's Nazi Germany was on the rise. The president went on to defeat Republican Wendell Wilkie in the general election, and his third term in office was dominated by America's involvement in World War II.

In 1944, with the war still in progress, Roosevelt defeated New York governor Thomas Dewey for a fourth term in office. However, the president was unable to complete the full term. On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt, who had suffered from various health problems for years, died at age 63 in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman. On March 21, 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which stated that no person could be elected to the office of president more than twice. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states in 1951.

Jul 18, 1945:
Charges of communists in the U.S. Army raised

In testimony before the House Military Affairs subcommittee, the subcommittee's chief counsel, H. Ralph Burton, charges that 16 officers and non-commissioned officers in the U.S. Army have pasts that "reflect communism." The charges, issued nearly 10 years before Senator Joseph McCarthy would make similar accusations, were hotly denied by the U.S. Army and government.

By July 1945, with the war in Europe having ended just two months before, Cold War animosities between the United States and the Soviet Union were already beginning to arise. The two nations, allies against Hitler during World War II, were dividing over issues such as the postwar fate of Germany and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. One aspect of the growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States involved charges that communist agents were at work in various sectors of American society, such as Hollywood and the federal government. In July 1945, House Military Affairs subcommittee chief counsel H. Ralph Burton testified that his investigations revealed at least 16 officers and non-commissioned officers in the U.S. Army had communist backgrounds. As evidence, Burton cited the fact that some of the men had contributed writings to radical journals such as New Masses. In addition, some of the men had served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer fighting force that battled against the fascist forces of Franco in Spain during that nation's civil war in the 1930s. The U.S. Army quickly fired back, declaring that its own investigation revealed that none of the men named by Burton "was disaffected or disloyal." Whatever activities prior to their military service the men might have engaged in, "the real criterion always remains: Is the individual at the present time whole-heartedly loyal to the United States?" In the celebration that accompanied the U.S. victory over Japan less than three weeks after Burton's testimony, the charges against the U.S. Army were forgotten.

Burton's charges are of interest, however, coming nearly 10 years prior to Senator Joseph McCarthy's similar accusations against the U.S. Army in 1954. In the latter case, McCarthy was completely disgraced during his hearings into communism in the Army. The 1945 accusations indicate that McCarthy was not the creator of the so-called Red Scare that swept the nation after World War II. Indeed, even before World War II came to an end, charges of communist infiltration of the U.S. government and military were being issued.

Jul 18, 1947:
Truman signs second Presidential Succession Act

On this day in 1947, President Harry S. Truman signs the Presidential Succession Act. This act revised an older succession act that was passed in 1792 during George Washington's first term.

The original succession act designated the Senate president pro tempore as the first in line to succeed the president should he and the vice president die unexpectedly while in office. If he for some reason could not take over the duties, the speaker of the house was placed next in the line of succession. In 1886, during Grover Cleveland's administration, Congress removed both the Senate president and the speaker of the house from the line of succession. From that time until 1947, two cabinet officials, (their order in line depended on the order in which the agencies were created) became the next in line to succeed a president should the vice president also become incapacitated or die. The decision was controversial. Many members of Congress felt that those in a position to succeed the president should be elected officials and not, as cabinet members were, political appointees, thereby giving both Republican and Democratic parties a chance at controlling the White House.

In 1945, then-Vice President Truman assumed the presidency after Franklin Roosevelt died of a stroke during his fourth term. As president, Truman advanced the view that the speaker of the house, as an elected official, should be next in line to be president after the vice president. On July 18, 1947, he signed an act that resurrected the original 1792 law, but placed the speaker ahead of the Senate president pro tempore in the hierarchy. Truman's critics at the time claimed that the president did so because he had a close friendship with then-Speaker Sam Rayburn, and a less congenial relationship with Kenneth McKellar, the president pro tempore.

Fortunately for the country, there has never been an instance in which the presidency has had to pass to anyone other than the vice president.

Jul 18, 1948:
Juan Manuel Fangio makes Formula One debut

Juan Manuel Fangio–the Argentine race car driver dubbed "the Maestro"–makes his European racing debut at the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France in Reims, France on this day in 1948.

Born in San Jose de Balcarce, Argentina, in 1911, Fangio left school at the age of 11 and began working as an automobile mechanic. With financial support from the town of Balcarce, he won his first major racing victory driving a Chevrolet in the Gran Premio Internacional del Norte of 1940, a grueling road race between Buenos Aires and Lima, Peru. After a hiatus during World War II, Fangio made it to Europe, where he was invited to race a Simca-Gordini in the French Grand Prix in Reims on July 18, 1948. (Grands Prix are the events that make up a single season on the Formula One circuit, the highest class of European auto racing according to the Federation International de l'Automobile.) Though he retired from both of the races he entered that day, Fangio announced his potential as a worthy rival for his European counterparts.

In October 1948, Fangio's Chevrolet rolled over a Peruvian cliff during a road race; though Fangio escaped almost uninjured, his co-driver and friend Daniel Urrutia was killed in the crash. After briefly considering retirement, Fangio returned to Europe the following summer for his first full European racing season. He won his first four races, and by the end of the season had racked up seven major wins. In 1950, the Formula One World Championship was created. Fangio, who had signed on with the Alfa Romeo team, was just shy of his 39th birthday at the start of that first championship season. He lost the title that year to his Italian teammate, Giuseppe Farina, but stayed with Alfa Romeo and held on to win his first Formula One championship title in 1951.

Over the course of his career, Fangio would drive some of the best cars Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo ever produced. In addition to five Formula One titles between 1951 and 1957, he triumphed in an incredible 24 of his 51 Grand Prix races. Perhaps his greatest achievement came in his last full season, at the German Grand Prix in Nurburgring in 1957. Fangio came from 56 seconds behind to overtake the rival Ferrari team, bettering the track record by an incredible 12 seconds on three consecutive laps. The victory gave Fangio his fifth Formula One title. He retired the following year.

Known for his spectacular technical ability and for his demure manner, Fangio has been called the greatest driver of all time. He died in July 1995, and was buried in his native Balcarce.

Jul 18, 1955:
Soviet Union agrees to grant Hanoi economic aid

Following a visit from Ho Chi Minh and his ministers, the Soviet Union announces that it will grant Hanoi 400 million rubles (about $100 million) in economic aid. On July 7, China had announced that Beijing would extend Hanoi economic aid of 800 million yuan (about $200 million). The July grants from China and the Soviet Union enabled Hanoi to initiate an ambitious industrialization program. In less than 10 years, the North was producing items not yet made in the South. Continued aid from Hanoi's fellow communist nations would sustain North Vietnam in its war against the South Vietnamese and their American allies until 1975, when they defeated the South Vietnamese forces and reunified the country.

Jul 18, 1960:
Fifteen-year-old Brenda Lee earns a #1 hit with "I'm Sorry

She was several inches short of five feet tall, even in socks and saddle shoes, and she weighed no more than 90 pounds, but her voice was that of a heavyweight. Just 15 years old but already five years into a professional recording career, "Little Miss Dynamite" Brenda Lee earned the first of her many smash pop hits when "I'm Sorry" reached the top of the Billboard charts on July 18, 1960.

Brenda Lee was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in the charity ward of an Atlanta hospital in December 1944, the daughter of an itinerant semipro baseball player/carpenter who was killed in a construction accident when she was only eight years old. A true singing prodigy, Brenda was a veteran of numerous regional talent contests, radio shows and television programs by the time she got her big break at the age of 11, when she met country star Red Foley shortly before a concert in Augusta, Georgia, and was invited onstage by him to perform Hank Williams' "Jambalaya." Three encores later, little Brenda Lee was on her way to being a star. "I still get cold chills thinking about the first time I heard that voice," Foley would later say. "There I stood, after 26 years of supposedly learning how to conduct myself in front of an audience, with my mouth open two miles wide and a glassy stare in my eyes....I felt guilty for not going out to the box office and buying a ticket."

It would be another four years before she had her big commercial breakthrough with "Sweet Nothin's" (a #4 hit in early 1960) and "I'm Sorry," but Brenda Lee made a series of records leading up to those hits that would defy any cynic's expectations of what a girl of her age was capable of. Though she would be known during her heyday as a singer who leaned toward country music, early records like "Dynamite"—the source of her nickname—and "Bigelow 6-200" were hard-driving rockabilly of the sort that would gain her entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and would make lifelong fans of a certain Liverpool foursome who would open for Lee under the name "The Silver Beetles" during her pre-Beatlemania tour of Great Britain.

Following her breakthrough #1 hit on this day in 1960, Brenda Lee went on to earn 27 more top-40 hits over the course of the 1960s—more than any other solo female performer in that decade.
18 July Deaths

707 – Monmu, Japanese emperor (b. 683)
715 – Muhammad bin Qasim, Umayyad general (b. 695)
912 – Zhu Wen, Emperor Taizu of Later Liang (b. 852)
1100 – Godfrey of Bouillon, Frankish knight (b. 1016)
1300 – Gerard Segarelli, Italian religious leader, founded the Apostolic Brethren (b. 1240)
1566 – Bartolomé de las Casas, Spanish bishop (b. 1484)
1591 – Jacobus Gallus, Slovenian composer (b. 1550)
1608 – Joachim III Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg (b. 1546)
1610 – Caravaggio, Italian painter (b. 1573)
1639 – Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, German general (b. 1604)
1695 – Johannes Camphuys, Dutch politician, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (b. 1634)
1698 – Johann Heinrich Heidegger, Swiss theologian (b. 1633)
1721 – Antoine Watteau, French painter (b. 1684)
1730 – François de Neufville, duc de Villeroi, French soldier (b. 1644)
1756 – Pieter Langendijk, Dutch poet and playwright (b. 1683)
1792 – John Paul Jones, American admiral (b. 1747)
1817 – Jane Austen, English author (b. 1775)
1863 – Robert Gould Shaw, American colonel (b. 1837)
1872 – Benito Juárez, Mexican lawyer and politician, 26th President of Mexico (b. 1806)
1884 – Ferdinand von Hochstetter, Austrian geologist (b. 1829)
1892 – Thomas Cook, English travel agent, founded the Thomas Cook Group (b. 1808)
1899 – Horatio Alger, Jr., American author (b. 1832)
1916 – Benjamin C. Truman, American journalist and author (b. 1835)
1918 – Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (b. 1864)
1925 – Louis-Nazaire Bégin, Canadian cardinal (b. 1840)
1932 – Jean Jules Jusserand, French author and diplomat (b. 1855)
1937 – Julian Bell, English poet (b. 1908)
1938 – Marie of Romania (b. 1875)
1944 – Thomas Sturge Moore, English poet and author (b. 1870)
1947 – Heiti Talvik, Estonian poet (b. 1904)
1947 – Evald Tipner, Estonian football, ice hockey and bandy player (b. 1906)
1948 – Herman Gummerus, Finnish historian and politician (b. 1877)
1949 – Vítězslav Novák, Czech composer (b. 1870)
1950 – Carl Clinton Van Doren, American author and critic (b. 1885)
1952 – Jack Earle, American actor (b. 1906)
1952 – Paul Saintenoy, Belgian architect (b. 1862)
1953 – Lucy Booth, English-Swedish daughter of William and Catherine Booth (b. 1868)
1954 – Machine Gun Kelly, American gangster (b. 1895)
1966 – Bobby Fuller, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (The Bobby Fuller Four) (b. 1942)
1968 – Corneille Heymans, Belgian physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1892)
1968 – Manfred Toeppen, American water polo player (b. 1887)
1969 – Mary Jo Kopechne, American educator and secretary (b. 1940)
1973 – Jack Hawkins, English actor (b. 1910)
1975 – Vaughn Bodē, American illustrator (b. 1941)
1982 – Lionel Daunais, Canadian singer-songwriter (b. 1902)
1982 – Roman Jakobson, Russian–American linguist and literary theorist (b. 1896)
1984 – Lally Bowers English actress and singer (b. 1914)
1984 – Grigori Kromanov, Estonian director (b. 1926)
1985 – Shahnawaz Bhutto, Pakistani son of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (b. 1958)
1985 – Louisa Ghijs, Belgian actress (b. 1902)
1988 – Nico, German singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and actress (b. 1938)
1988 – Joly Braga Santos, Portuguese composer and conductor (b. 1924)
1989 – Donnie Moore, American baseball player (b. 1954)
1989 – Marika Nezer, Greek actress (b. 1906)
1989 – Rebecca Schaeffer, American actress (b. 1967)
1990 – Yoon Boseon, South Korean politician and activist, 4th President of South Korea (b. 1897)
1990 – Karl Menninger, American psychiatrist (b. 1896)
1990 – Gerry Boulet, Canadian singer-songwriter (Offenbach) (b. 1946)
1990 – Johnny Wayne, Canadian actor and screenwriter (b. 1918)
1995 – Srinagarindra, Thai wife of Mahidol Adulyadej (b. 1900)
1995 – Fabio Casartelli, Italian cyclist (b. 1970)
1997 – Eugene Merle Shoemaker, American geologist (b. 1928)
1999 – Meir Ariel, Israeli singer-songwriter (b. 1942)
2001 – Mimi Fariña, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1945)
2001 – James Hatfield, American author (b. 1958)
2001 – Fabio Taglioni, Italian engineer (b. 1920)
2002 – Victor Emery, English physicist (b. 1933)
2002 – Louis Laberge, Canadian union leader (b. 1924)
2004 – André Castelot, Belgian-French historian and author (b. 1911)
2004 – Paul Foot, Israeli-English journalist (b. 1937)
2004 – Émile Peynaud, French wine maker (b. 1912)
2005 – William Westmoreland, American general (b. 1914)
2005 – Bill Hicke, Canadian ice hockey player, coach, and manager (b. 1938)
2007 – Jerry Hadley, American tenor (b. 1952)
2007 – John Kronus, American wrestler (b. 1969)
2007 – Kenji Miyamoto, Japanese politician (b. 1908)
2008 – Khosrow Shakibai, Iranian actor (b. 1944)
2009 – Henry Allingham, English soldier (b. 1896)
2009 – Jill Balcon, English actress (b. 1925)
2011 – Georgess McHargue, American author and poet (b. 1941)
2012 – Robert Creamer, American journalist (b. 1922)
2012 – Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Lithuanian-Israeli rabbi (b. 1910)
2012 – Jean François-Poncet, French politician, Minister of Foreign Affairs for France (b. 1928)
2012 – Rajesh Khanna, Indian actor, producer, politician (b. 1942)
2012 – Seppo Liitsola, Finnish ice hockey player and coach (b. 1933)
2012 – Pancho Martin, Cuban-American horse trainer (b. 1925)
2012 – Jack Matthews, Welsh rugby player and physician (b. 1920)
2012 – Dawoud Rajiha, Syrian general and politician, Minister of Defense for Syria (b. 1947)
2012 – Assef Shawkat, Syrian general and politician (b. 1950)
2012 – Hasan Turkmani, Syrian general and politician (b. 1935)
2013 – Vaali, Indian poet, songwriter, and actor (b. 1931)
2013 – Olivier Ameisen, French-American cardiologist and educator (b. 1953)
2013 – John R. Deane, Jr., American general (b. 1919)
2013 – Abdul Razak Abdul Hamid, Malaysian academic (b. 1925)
2013 – Francis X. Kane, American colonel and engineer (b. 1918)
2013 – Willie Louis, American witness in the Emmett Till murder trial (b. 1937)
2013 – John H. Moore II, American lawyer and judge (b. 1927)
2013 – Samar Mukherjee, Indian politician (b. 1913)
2013 – Vaughn Ross, American murderer (b. 1971)
2013 – Norman Sillman, English-Australian sculptor (b. 1921)