• On Aug. 3, 1492, from the Spanish port of Palos, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets sail in command of three ships — the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria — on a journey to find a western sea route to China, India and Asia. In October, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China.
• On July 29, 1909, the newly formed General Motors Corporation acquires the country’s leading luxury automaker, the Cadillac Automobile Company, for $4.5 million. Cadillac was founded out of the ruins of automotive pioneer Henry Ford’s second failed company. His third effort, the Ford Motor Company, finally succeeded.
• On Aug. 4, 1914, as World War I erupts in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaims the neutrality of the United States. However, by June 1915, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat.
• On Aug. 2, 1934, Chancellor Adolf Hitler becomes absolute dictator of Germany under the title of Fuhrer, or “Leader.” The Fuhrer assured his people that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years, but Nazi Germany collapsed just 11 years later.
• On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the billsigning ceremony, former President Harry Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.
• On July 31, 1975, Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa is reported missing in Detroit. He was last seen alive in a parking lot outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant the previous afternoon. Authorities have never been able to confirm what really happened to Hoffa. He was declared legally dead in 1982.
(c) 2013 King Features Synd.