Today in History


Today is Monday, July 17, the 198th day of 2023. There are 167 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On July 17, 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States.

On this date:

In 1862, during the Civil War, Congress approved the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that all slaves taking refuge behind Union lines were to be set free.

In 1918, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.

In 1936, the Spanish Civil War began as right-wing army generals launched a coup attempt against the Second Spanish Republic.

In 1944, during World War II, 320 men, two-thirds of them African-Americans, were killed when a pair of ammunition ships exploded at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California.

In 1945, following Nazi Germany’s surrender, President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II.

In 1955, Disneyland had its opening day in Anaheim, California.

In 1975, an Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit in the first superpower link-up of its kind.

In 1981, 114 people were killed when a pair of suspended walkways above the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed during a tea dance.

In 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Europe-bound Boeing 747, exploded and crashed off Long Island, New York, shortly after departing John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 230 people on board.

In 2009, former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite died in New York at 92.

In 2014, all 298 passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were killed when the Boeing 777 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine; both Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists denied responsibility.

In 2020, civil rights icon John Lewis, whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died at age 80.

Ten years ago: In a heated House Judiciary Committee hearing on domestic spying, members of Congress said they’d never intended to allow the National Security Agency to build a database of every phone call in America, while top Obama administration officials countered that the once-secret program was legal and necessary to keep America safe. At least 58 people were killed and dozens more were missing amid flooding in China’s Sichuan province. Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales when a bill received royal assent.

Five years ago: Amid criticism from within his own party, President Donald Trump said he had simply misspoken when he said during his summit with Vladimir Putin that he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Former President Barack Obama, speaking in South Africa, denounced Trump’s policies without mentioning his name; Obama took aim at the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” and decried leaders who are caught lying and “just double down and lie some more.” Alex Bregman and George Springer hit back-to-back homers in the 10th inning, and the American League beat the National League 8-6 in an All-Star Game that included a record 10 home runs.

One year ago: A report said nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to a mass shooting that left 21 people dead at a Texas elementary school, but “egregiously poor decision-making” resulted in a chaotic scene that lasted more than an hour before the gunman was finally confronted and killed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired the head of the country’s security service and its prosecutor general, citing hundreds of criminal proceedings into treason and collaboration by people within their departments. Australian Cameron Smith became the unlikely winner of golf’s British Open, using stellar putting to come from behind and overcome Rory McIlroy to win his first major.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Donald Sutherland is 88. Sportscaster Verne Lundquist is 83. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is 76. Rock musician Terry “Geezer” Butler is 74. Actor Lucie Arnaz is 72. Actor David Hasselhoff is 71. Rock musician Fran Smith Jr. (The Hooters) is 71. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel is 69. Television producer Mark Burnett is 63. Actor Nancy Giles is 63. Singer Regina Belle is 60. Country singer Craig Morgan is 59. Rock musician Lou Barlow is 57. Contemporary Christian singer Susan Ashton is 56. Actor Andre Royo is 55. Actor Bitty Schram is 55. Actor Jason Clarke is 54. Movie director F. Gary Gray is 54. Country singer Luke Bryan is 47. Actor Eric Winter is 47. Actor Mike Vogel is 44. Actor Tom Cullen is 38. Actor Brando Eaton is 37. R&B singer Jeremih (jehr-uh-MY’) is 36. Actor Summer Bishil is 35. Actor Billie Lourd is 31. Actor Leo Howard is 26.

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