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1291 - The Swiss communities of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden formed an alliance that became known as the Swiss Confederation. The alliance was created to protect the communities against the imperial interests of the Austrian House of Habsburg. Since 1891, the 600th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, this founding has been celebrated as National Day in Switzerland since 1891.
1498 - Christopher Columbus landed on mainland America, but thinking it was an island, called it Isla Santa.
1714 - George Louis, Elector of Hanover, was named King George I of Great Britain upon the death of Queen Anne.
1774 - Joseph Priestley, the British Presbyterian minister and chemist, identified a gas which he called "dephlogisticated air" -- later known as oxygen.
1778 - The World's first savings bank was opened in Hamburg, Germany.
1790 - The first United States census was completed, showing a population of nearly 4 million people.
1793 - France became the first country to use the metric system of weights and measures, a byproduct of the French Revolution.
1798 - The British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile, thwarting Napoleon's conquest of the Middle East.
1808 - British troops landed on Portuguese soil to push back Napoleon's French forces who had occupied the whole of the Iberian peninsular.
1834 - Slavery was declared unlawful throughout the British Empire. A combination of slave revolts, humanitarian concerns, and a growing industrialization in Great Britain led to the passage of the Abolition Act. An estimated 770,280 slaves became free
1873 - Inventor Andrew S. Hallidie successfully tested a cable car he had designed for the city of San Francisco.
1876 - Colorado became the 38th state of the United States.
1893 - Henry Perky and William Ford of Watertown, New York, invented shredded wheat.
1894 - Sino-Japanese hostilities began as China and Japan declared war over the question of Korea.
1894 - After leaving New York on June 6, 1894, George Samuelson and Frank Harbo landed in England, having completed a 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean in only a rowboat.
1927 - Musicians had recorded fiddle tunes, called "Old Time Music", in the southern Appalachians for several years. However, it wasn't until this date in Bristol, Tennessee, that country aficionados postulate that "country music" was really born. Ralph Peer signed Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to recording contracts for Victor Records (1927).
1933 - New York Giants pitcher, southpaw Carl Hubbell, pitched his 45th consecutive scoreless inning.
1936 - Adolf Hitler opened the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin.
1937 - "The Goodwill Hour" and its famous catch phrase, "You have a friend and advisor in John J. Anthony," debuted on Mutual radio.
1939 - Band leader Glenn Miller recorded "In the Mood" which would later become his theme tune.
1939 - It was said by Dr. Clemont Joynt that eyeglasses and a diet high in vitamin A would cure baseball players of slumps which were previously blamed on either overwork or underwork.
1940 - 23-year-old John Fitzgerald Kennedy saw the first book he had ever written published; titled, "Why England Slept". Kennedy, who would be the United States' 35th President, later wrote "Profiles in Courage" which would become a best-seller.
1941 - "Parade" magazine called the "tiny truck which can do practically everything" the "...the Armyís most intriguing new gadget." According to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, America couldnít have won World War II without this invention. The tiny truck, built by Willys Truck Company, was the Jeep. Three full pages were devoted to the Jeep because "Parade" was so excited about it.
1942 - On Decca Records, Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra recorded "Charleston Alley."
1942 - The American Federation of Musicians went on strike when union president James C. Petrillo said phonograph records were "a threat to membersí jobs." Consequently, musicians refused to do any recording sessions for several months, but live radio broadcast were permitted.
1943 - Today was the groundbreaking ceremony in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the first uranium 235 plant. To build the atom bomb, uranium 235 was necessary. Completed in the summer of 1944, the uranium manufacturing facility cost $280,000,000 to build.
1943 - Race-related rioting erupted in New York's Harlem section, resulting in several deaths.
1944 - 13-year-old Anne Frank made the final entry in the diary she had kept for two years while she and her family hid from the Nazis. Three days after this entry was made, the Grune Polizei raided the secret annex in Amsterdam, Holland, where the Frank family was in hiding. At the age of 15, Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
1944 - The 63-day Warsaw uprising began when Poles rose against the Nazi occupation.
1946 - President Truman signed the Fulbright Program into law, establishing the scholarships named for Senator William J. Fulbright.
1950 - Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Curt Simmons, became the first major league ball player to be summoned for active military duty during the Korean War.
1950 - King Leopold III of Belgium abdicated in favor of Prince Baudouin, effective July 1951.
1953 - In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the United States first aluminum-faced building to be constructed was finished. It was the Alcoa (Aluminum Corporation of America) Building.
1956 - RCA released two Elvis Presley's hit singles: "Blue Suede Shoes / Tutti Frutti" and "Love Me Tender / Any Way You Want Me".
1957 - The United States and Canada reached agreement to create the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).
1958 - After spending 26 years at just 3 cents, the cost to mail a first-class letter in the United States was raised to 4 cents.
1960 - The song that would start the dance craze of the 1960s, Chubby Checkerís "The Twist", was released.
1960 - Benin (formerly Dahomey) proclaimed its independence.
1962 - Ghana's president Kwame Nkrumah escaped an assassination attempt when a hand grenade was thrown into a crowd greeting him.
1963 - Talks in London on Malta's future ended with some Maltese delegates staging a walkout and Britain announcing that independence would take place in May 1964.
1966 - Yakubu Gowon assumed power in Nigeria following an army coup.
1966 - 25-year-old Charles Joseph Whitman shot and killed 15 people at the University of Texas before he was gunned down by police.
1971 - At Madison Square Garden in New York, The Concert for Bangladesh was held. Performing live were George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar and Billy Preston. A multirecord set to commemorate the concert was released later. Proceeds from the concert and album sales raised over $11 million to aid the starving in Bangladesh.
1971 - As a summer replacement, CBS launched The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour on this date. The unlikely hosting couple, Sonny and Cher Bono, were fresh and funny, and they were embraced by the American public. The show was a huge hit, and was picked up as a permanent CBS fixture. The musical-variety show, with the glamorous, exotic Cher and the farcical, diminutive Sonny poking affectionately at each other, lasted many years until the Bonos announced their marriage was over and they were canceling the show.
1975 - The Final Act of the Helsinki Agreement on human rights was signed by the west and the Soviet Union.
1976 - Trinidad and Tobago became an independent republic within the Commonwealth.
1976 - The 21st Olympic Games in Montreal ended on this date. They were the most expensive and controversial in Olympic history. Thirty-two nations withdrew from the games, six East European athletes defected to Canada, a Soviet athlete was dismissed for cheating, three other participants were disqualified for steroid use, and a Soviet sprinter reported a death threat.
1978 - Cincinnati Red, Pete Rose got not a single hit in five times at bat in Atlanta, Georgia, ending his consecutive hitting streak at 44 games; 12 short of the record set by Joe DiMaggio with the New York Yankees.
1981 - At 12:01 a.m., pop culture changed forever in the United States when MTV (Music Television) made its debut. The music video cable channel's first video to be shown was, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. The original five veejays on MTV were Martha Quinn, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, J.J. Jackson and Alan Hunter.
1984 - Singer Jermaine Jackson, brother of the King of Pop Micheal Jackson, made a guest appearance on television soap opera, "As the World Turns".
1987 - In Las Vegas, Nevada, Mike Tyson was declared the winner after a 12-round match against Tony Tucker, becoming the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.
1989 - The Revolutionary Justice Organization, a pro-Iranian group in Lebanon which had threatened to kill American hostage Joseph Cicippio, extended its deadline a day after another group released a videotape showing a body said to be that of hostage William R. Higgins.
1990 - A five-day coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago ended with the surrender of the Black Muslim rebels and the release of their captives.
1994 - German President Roman Herzog apologized for the suffering his nation caused Poland in World War II.
1996 - Bishop Pierre Claverie was assassinated hours after meeting French foreign minister Herve de Charette in Algiers.