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This Day in History: October 4


1777 – Battle of Germantown: Troops under George Washington are repelled by British troops under Sir William Howe.

1876 – Texas A&M University opens as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, becoming the first public institution of higher education in Texas.

1895 – The first U.S. Open Men's Golf Championship administered by the United States Golf Association is played at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island.

1918 – An explosion kills more than 100 and destroys the T.A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant in Sayreville, New Jersey. Fires and explosions continue for three days forcing massive evacuations and spreading ordnance over a wide area, pieces of which were still being found as of 2007.

1927 – Gutzon Borglum begins sculpting Mount Rushmore.

1940 – Meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini at the Brenner Pass.

1941 – Norman Rockwell's Willie Gillis character debuts on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

1943 – World War II: U.S. captures the Solomon Islands from the Japanese.

1957 – Space Race: Launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.

1957 – Leave It to Beaver premieres on CBS.

1965 – Pope Paul VI arrives in New York, the first Pope to visit the United States of America and the Western hemisphere.

1983 – Richard Noble sets a new land speed record of 633.468 miles per hour (1,019.468 km/h), driving Thrust2 at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

1985 – The Free Software Foundation is founded in Massachusetts, United States.

1988 – U.S. televangelist Jim Bakker is indicted for fraud.

1991 – The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty is opened for signature.

1997 – The second largest cash robbery in U.S. history occurs at the Charlotte, North Carolina office of Loomis, Fargo and Company. A Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation eventually results in 24 convictions and the recovery of approximately 95% of the $17.3 million stolen cash.

2004 – SpaceShipOne wins Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, by being the first private craft to fly into space.

2006 – The website Wikileaks is launched by Julian Assange.


1626 – Richard Cromwell, English academic and politician, Lord Protector of Great Britain (d. 1712)

1822 – Rutherford B. Hayes, American general, lawyer, and politician, 19th President of the United States (d. 1893)

1861 – Frederic Remington, American painter, sculptor, and illustrator (d. 1909)

1880 – Damon Runyon, American author and playwright (d. 1946)

1895 – Buster Keaton, American actor, director, and producer (d. 1966)

1903 – John Vincent Atanasoff, American physicist and academic, invented the Atanasoff–Berry computer (d. 1995)

1923 – Charlton Heston, American actor and director (d. 2008)

1937 – Jackie Collins, English-American author and actress (d. 2015)

1941 – Roy Blount, Jr., American journalist and author

1957 – Russell Simmons, American businessman, founded Def Jam Recordings and Phat Farm


1754 – Tanacharison, American tribal chief (b. 1700)

1944 – Al Smith, American lawyer and politician, 42nd Governor of New York (b. 1873)

1970 – Janis Joplin, American singer-songwriter (b. 1943)

1974 – Anne Sexton, American poet and author (b. 1928)

1975 – Joan Whitney Payson, American businesswoman and philanthropist (b. 1903)

2004 – Gordon Cooper, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1927)