Today In History

Today is Tuesday, Aug. 6, the 218th day of 2013. There are 147 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight:

On Aug. 6, 1945, during World War II, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, resulting in an estimated 140,000 deaths.

On this date:

In 1813, during the Venezuelan War of Independence, forces led by Simon Bolivar recaptured Caracas.

In 1825, Upper Peru became the autonomous republic of Bolivia.

In 1862, the Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas was scuttled by its crew on the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, La., to prevent capture by the Union.

In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, arriving in Kingsdown, England, from France in 14½ hours.

In 1930, New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Force Crater went missing after leaving a Manhattan restaurant; his disappearance remains a mystery.

In 1942, Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands became the first reigning queen to address a joint session of Congress, telling lawmakers that despite Nazi occupation, her people’s motto remained, “No surrender.”

In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov became the second man to orbit Earth as he flew aboard Vostok 2.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

In 1973, former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, 72, died in exile in Spain. Entertainer Stevie Wonder was seriously injured in a car accident in North Carolina.

In 1978, Pope Paul VI died at Castel Gandolfo at age 80.

In 1988, an attempt by New York City police to enforce a curfew in Tompkins Square Park triggered a melee that left 52 people injured and led to the filing of more than 110 claims of police brutality.

In 1993, Louis Freeh won Senate confirmation to be FBI director.

Ten years ago: Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger used an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to announce his successful bid to replace California Gov. Gray Davis. The same day, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said he was entering the recall race as well. Israel freed 334 Palestinian prisoners in a bid to jump-start peace efforts, but the gesture fell flat among Palestinians. Record-breaking heat, already blamed for three dozen deaths, continued to torment Europe.

Five years ago: The government declared that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was solely responsible for the anthrax attacks that killed five and rattled the nation in 2001. (Ivins had committed suicide on July 29.) A U.S. military jury convicted Osama bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan, of supporting terrorism in the first war crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay (however, the jury imposed a surprisingly light 5½-year sentence, making Hamdan eligible for parole in five months; the U.S. later transferred Hamdan to his home country of Yemen, which released him in January 2009.) President George W. Bush, on his Asia tour, met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak; Bush then traveled to Thailand, where he met with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

One year ago: Syria’s prime minister, Riad Hijab, defected two months after being forced into the position by President Bashar Assad. Marvin Hamlisch, 68, who composed or arranged the scores for dozens of movies including “The Sting” and the Broadway smash “A Chorus Line,” died in Los Angeles. Art critic and historian Robert Hughes, 74, died in New York.

Associated Press

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