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This Day in History: August 4


1790 – A newly passed tariff act creates the Revenue Cutter Service (the forerunner of the United States Coast Guard).

1821 – The Saturday Evening Post is published for the first time as a weekly newspaper.

1873 – American Indian Wars: While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, the United States 7th Cavalry, under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer clashes for the first time with the Cheyenne and Lakota people near the Tongue River; only one man on each side is killed.

1889 – The Great Fire of Spokane, Washington destroys some 32 blocks of the city, prompting a mass rebuilding project.

1892 – The father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden are found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home.

1914 – World War I: Germany invades Belgium. In response, Belgium and the United Kingdom declare war on Germany. The United States declares its neutrality.

1944 – The Holocaust: A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find and arrest Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.

1947 – The Supreme Court of Japan is established.

1958 – The Billboard Hot 100 is published for the first time.

1964 – American civil rights movement: Civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney are found dead in Mississippi after disappearing on June 21.

1964 – Gulf of Tonkin incident: U.S. destroyers USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy report coming under attack in the Gulf of Tonkin.

1969 – Vietnam War: At the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris, American representative Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuân Thuỷ begin secret peace negotiations. The negotiations will eventually fail.

1977 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs legislation creating the United States Department of Energy.

1987 – The Federal Communications Commission rescinds the Fairness Doctrine which had required radio and television stations to present controversial issues "fairly".

1993 – A federal judge sentences Los Angeles Police Department officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell to 30 months in prison for violating motorist Rodney King's civil rights.

2007 – NASA's Phoenix spacecraft is launched.


1901 – Louis Armstrong, American trumpet player and singer (d. 1971)

1913 – Robert Hayden, American poet and educator (d. 1980)

1915 – Warren Avis, American businessman, founded Avis Rent a Car System (d. 2007)

1920 – Helen Thomas, American journalist and author (d. 2013)

1926 – George Irving Bell, American physicist, biologist, and mountaineer (d. 2000)

1932 – Frances E. Allen, American computer scientist and academic

1938 – Ellen Schrecker, American historian and academic

1957 – Brooks D. Simpson, American historian and author

1958 – Mary Decker, American runner

1961 – Barack Obama, American lawyer and politician, 44th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate

1971 – Jeff Gordon, American race car driver and actor


1886 – Samuel J. Tilden, American lawyer and politician, 25th Governor of New York (b. 1814)

1932 – Alfred Henry Maurer, American painter (b. 1868)

2003 – Frederick Chapman Robbins, American pediatrician and virologist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1916)

2004 – Mary Sherman Morgan, American chemist and engineer (b. 1921)

2014 – James Brady, American activist and politician, 15th White House Press Secretary who was shot during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan (b. 1940)