On August 3, 1863, the first thoroughbred horse races took place at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
On this date:
In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, on a voyage that took him to the present-day Americas.
In 1807, former Vice President Aaron Burr went on trial before a federal court in Richmond, Va., charged with treason. (He was acquitted less than a month later.)
In 1914, Germany declared war on France at the onset of World War I.
In 1936, Jesse Owens of the United States won the first of his four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics as he took the 100-meter sprint.
In 1943, Gen. George S. Patton slapped a private at an army hospital in Sicily, accusing him of cowardice. (Patton was later ordered by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to apologize for this and a second, similar episode.)
In 1949, the National Basketball Association was formed as a merger of the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League.
In 1958, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus became the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater.
In 1966, comedian Lenny Bruce, 40, was found dead in his Los Angeles home.
In 1972, the U.S. Senate ratified the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. (The U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the treaty in 2002.)
In 1981, U.S. air traffic controllers went on strike, despite a warning from President Ronald Reagan they would be fired, which they were.
In 1988, the Soviet Union released Mathias Rust, the young West German pilot who had landed a light plane near Moscow's Red Square in May 1987.
In 1993, the Senate voted 96-3 to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ten years ago: The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies further paved the way for the Rev. V. Gene Robinson to become the church's first openly gay elected bishop, approving him on a 128-63 vote. Annika Sorenstam completed a career Grand Slam at the Women's British Open, beating Se Ri Pak by a stroke in a head-to-head showdown. Hank Stram, Marcus Allen, James Lofton, Elvin Bethea and Joe DeLamielleure were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Five years ago: Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn died near Moscow at age 89. Al-Qaida confirmed the death of a top commander (Abu Khabab al-Masri), apparently in a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan; he was accused of training the suicide bombers who'd killed 17 American sailors on the USS Cole in 2000. At least 145 people were killed in a stampede of pilgrims at a remote mountaintop Hindu temple in India.
One year ago: The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly denounced Syria's crackdown on dissent in a symbolic effort meant to push the deadlocked Security Council and the world at large into action on stopping the country's civil war. Michael Phelps rallied to win the 100-meter butterfly for his third gold of the London Games and No. 17 of his career. Missy Franklin set a world record in the 200 backstroke for the 17-year-old's third gold in London. Falling at speeds of up to 220 mph, nearly 140 skydivers shattered the vertical skydiving world record as they flew heads-down in a massive snowflake formation in northern Illinois.
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