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This Day in History: July 16


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.

1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act.

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.

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.

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.

1950 – Chaplain–Medic massacre: American POWs were massacred by North Korean Army.

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.

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.

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's first and most ambitious early 21st-century architectural project, is opened to the public by Mayor Richard M. Daley.

2015 – Four U.S. Marines and one gunman die in a shooting spree targeting military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


1749 – Cyrus Griffin, American lawyer, judge, and politician, 16th President of the Continental Congress (d. 1810)

1821 – Mary Baker Eddy, American religious leader and author, founded Christian Science (d. 1910)

1862 – Ida B. Wells, American journalist and activist (d. 1931)

1887 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (d. 1951)

1907 – Orville Redenbacher, American farmer and businessman, founded Orville Redenbacher's (d. 1995)

1911 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 1995)

1924 – Bess Myerson, American model, actress, and politician, Miss America 1945 (d. 2014)

1925 – Frank Jobe, American sergeant and surgeon (d. 2014)

1936 – Buddy Merrill, American guitarist

1964 – Phil Hellmuth, American poker player


1839 – Chief Bowles, Cherokee leader (b. 1765)

1882 – Mary Todd Lincoln, American wife of Abraham Lincoln, 19th First Lady of the United States (b. 1818)

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)

2006 – Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, American businessman and politician, 13th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas (b. 1948)

2012 – William Asher, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921)

2015 – Alan Kupperberg, American author and illustrator (b. 1953)