• On Aug. 3, 1492, from the Spanish port of Palos, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets sail with three ships — the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina — to find a western sea route to China, India and Asia. On Oct. 12, the expedition found the Bahamas and later sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China.
• On Aug. 4, 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s classic “Walden” is published. Thoreau was a 27-year-old Harvard graduate when he moved to Walden Pond and built the 10-by-15-foot cabin on land owned by his friend, poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.
• On July 29, 1862, Confederate spy Marie Isabella “Belle” Boyd is arrested by Union troops and held at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. It was the first of three arrests for the skilled spy, who later parlayed her spying experiences into a book and an acting career.
• On July 30, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto and mandating that the phrase be printed on all U.S. paper currency.
• On July 31, 1964, Ranger 7, an unmanned U.S. lunar probe, takes the first closeup images of the moon before it impacts with the lunar surface. The images were 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen through earth-bound telescopes.
• On Aug. 1, 1972, in the “Match of the Century,” American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer defeats Russian Boris Spassky during the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. Fischer became the first American to win the competition since its inception in 1866.
• On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, Iraq’s tiny, oil-rich neighbor, and gain control of 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves. On Aug. 9, Operation Desert Shield began as U.S. forces raced to the Persian Gulf.
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