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This Day in History: August 5


1583 – Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what is now St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

1620 – The Mayflower departs from Southampton, England on its first attempt to reach North America.

1689 – One thousand five hundred Iroquois attack the village of Lachine in New France.

1735 – Freedom of the press: New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger is acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.

1763 – Pontiac's War: Battle of Bushy Run: British forces led by Henry Bouquet defeat Chief Pontiac's Indians at Bushy Run.

1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US $800; rescinded in 1872).

1861 – The United States Army abolishes flogging.

1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Baton Rouge: Along the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Confederate troops attempt to take the city, but are driven back by fire from Union gunboats.

1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Mobile Bay begins at Mobile Bay near Mobile, Alabama, Admiral David Farragut leads a Union flotilla through Confederate defenses and seals one of the last major Southern ports.

1882 – The Standard Oil of New Jersey is established.

1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe's Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.

1914 – In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light is installed.

1926 – Harry Houdini performs his greatest feat, spending 91 minutes underwater in a sealed tank before escaping.

1940 – World War II: The Soviet Union formally annexes Latvia.

1941 – World War II: The Battle of Smolensk concludes with Germany capturing about 300,000 Soviet Red Army prisoners.

1943 – World War II: Anti-Nazi resistance fighter Eva-Maria Buch guillotined at Plötzensee Prison, Berlin.

1944 – World War II: Possibly the biggest prison breakout in history occurs as 545 Japanese POWs attempt to escape outside the town of Cowra, New South Wales, Australia.

1944 – World War II: Polish insurgents liberate a German labor camp in Warsaw, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners.

1957 – American Bandstand, a show dedicated to the teenage "baby-boomers" by playing the songs and showing popular dances of the time, debuts on the ABC television network.

1958 – Herbert Hoover eclipses John Adams as having the longest retirement of any former U.S President until that time. Hoover would live another six years, his record 31 years 7 months 16 days retirement has since been eclipsed by Jimmy Carter.

1963 – The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union sign a nuclear test ban treaty.

1964 – Vietnam War: Operation Pierce Arrow: American aircraft from carriers USS Ticonderoga and USS Constellation bomb North Vietnam in retaliation for strikes against U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

1969 – Mariner program: Mariner 7 makes its closest fly-by of Mars (3,524 kilometers).

1974 – Vietnam War: The U.S. Congress places a $1 billion limit on military aid to South Vietnam.

1981 – President Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.

2015 – The Gold King Mine waste water spill releases 3 million gallons of heavy metal toxin tailings and waste water into the Animas River in Colorado.


1876 – Mary Ritter Beard, American historian and activist (d. 1958)

1880 – Gertrude Rush, American lawyer and jurist (d. 1962)

1880 – Ruth Sawyer, American author and educator (d. 1970)

1906 – John Huston, American actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 1987)

1930 – Neil Armstrong, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut (d. 2012)

1937 – Herb Brooks, American ice hockey player and coach (d. 2003)

1945 – Loni Anderson, American actress

1962 – Patrick Ewing, Jamaican-American basketball player and coach

1981 – Rachel Scott, American murder victim, inspired the Rachel's Challenge (d. 1999)

1982 – Jamie Houston, English-German rugby player

1982 – Lolo Jones, American hurdler

1986 – Paula Creamer, American golfer


1933 – Charles Harold Davis, American painter and academic (b. 1856)

1962 – Marilyn Monroe, American model, actress, and singer (b. 1926)

2002 – Chick Hearn, American sportscaster (b. 1916)

2006 – Susan Butcher, American dog sled racer (b. 1954)

2013 – May Song Vang, American activist (b. 1951)

2014 – Diann Blakely, American poet and academic (b. 1957)