Today In History: US declares war on Germany, joins World War I, the first of modern Olympic Games held in Athens...

1776 - The Continental Congress takes the first step toward American independence by announcing their decision to open all American ports to international trade with any part of the world that is not under British rule.

1789 - The First U.S. Congress begins regular sessions at Federal Hall in New York City.

1853 - Emil Jellinek, an entrepreneur who commissioned engineer Wilhelm
Maybach to design the first Mercedes automobile, named after Jellinek’s daughter, is born in Leipzig, Germany, on this day in 1853.

1896 - The first modern Olympic Games are held in Athens, Greece, with athletes from 14 countries participating. The International Olympic Committee met for the first time in Paris in June 1984 and chose Greece as the site of the inaugural modern Olympiad.

1909 - Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson become the first men to reach the North Pole.

1917 - Two days after the U.S. Senate voted 82 to 6 to declare war against Germany, the U.S. House of Representatives endorses the declaration by a vote of 373 to 50, and America formally enters World War I.

1938 - The United States recognizes Nazi Germany's conquest of Austria.

1941 - The German air force launches Operation Castigo, the bombing of Belgrade, on this day in 1941, as 24 divisions and 1,200 tanks drive into Greece. The attack on Yugoslavia was swift and brutal, an act of terror resulting in the death of 17,000 civilians–the largest number of civilian casualties

1950 - A train drops off a bridge in Tangua, Brazil, killing 110 people on this day in 1950. Twenty-two cars made up the Leopoldina Railways train that departed Rio de Janeiro for Victoria, Espirito Santo.

1990 - U.S. and Soviet diplomats meeting in Washington, D.C., make significant progress in negotiations concerning the role to be played by the newly reunified Germany in Europe. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze carried out most of the negotiations.




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