This Day In History, August 2nd

What happened on this day in history: The first cable car begins operating in San Francisco, U.S. President Warren G. Harding dies, and more.

1610: Henry Hudson Sails Into What Is Now Hudson Bay

Half Moon Ship

Wikimedia CommonsA depiction of Henry Hudson’s ship from his 1609 voyage, the Half Moon, in what would become known as the Hudson River.

Henry Hudson becomes the first European to see the body of water that is now Hudson Bay, which was later named after him. It was the Englishman’s fourth trip to the Western Hemisphere in search of the Northwest Passage. Upon entering the bay in their ship Discovery, Hudson and his crew initially believed they had finally found the passage, but after months of exploration they realized they had not.

1776: The majority of delegates sign the U.S. Declaration of Independence, despite the common misconception that this was done on July 4th.

1790: The First U.S. Census Is Conducted

The first U.S. census take place, counting almost 4 million free citizens and almost 700,000 enslaved people. The most populous state was Virginia, with 747,610 residents. The least populated state was Delaware, with 59,094 residents. At the completion of the first census, many expressed skepticism over the results, given the considerable amount of people living in rural areas and the lack of infrastructure to reach them. Today, the census occurs ever 10 years in the United States and requires mandatory participation.

1834: Sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, designer of the Statue of Liberty, is born in Colmar, France.

1865: English author Lewis Carroll publishes Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

1870: The world’s first underground subway train opens in London.

1873: The First Cable Car Begins Operating In San Francisco

The Clay Street Hill Railroad company tests its first cable car on San Francisco’s Clay Street at 4 a.m. They had begun building a cable line on the street in May 1873, and the line opened to the public a month after its initial test was conducted. Today, San Francisco’s cable cars are a National Historic Landmark and an iconic part of the city’s very identity.

1876: Wild Bill Hickok Dies

Wild Bill Cabinet Card

Wikimedia CommonsA cabinet card of Wild Bill Hickok. 1873.

Famous Wild West figure Wild Bill Hickok is shot and killed at the age of 39 while playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. The day before, a man named Jack McCall had lost a game of poker at the saloon and Hickok had offered to give him money for food. McCall was insulted, and he came back on August 2, walked up behind Hickok, and shouted, “Damn you! Take that!” before shooting him in the back of the head.

1909: The first Abraham Lincoln penny in American history goes into circulation.

1922: A massive typhoon makes landfall near Shantou, China, ultimately leaving some 60,000 people dead.

1923: U.S. President Warren G. Harding Dies In Office

This Day In History August 2

Library of CongressWarren G. Harding was the 29th President of the United States.

Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, dies suddenly two years into his term. Five days earlier, he had complained of upper abdominal pain. His doctor suspected a heart problem, and Harding was lying in bed on August 2 while his wife read the newspaper to him when he suddenly convulsed and died. Doctors initially attributed his death to cerebral hemorrhage, but it was more likely due to cardiac arrest.

1937: The Marihuana Tax Act effectively makes marijuana illegal throughout the United States.

1939: Physicists Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard write a letter to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt urging him to commence the Manhattan Project in hopes of developing an atomic weapon.

1943: Jewish prisoners being held at the Nazis’ Treblinka concentration camp in eastern Poland stage a massive revolt.

Uss Indianapolis Survivors

Wikimedia CommonsSurvivors of the USS Indianapolis arrive on Guam shortly after their rescue.

1945: The survivors of the torpedoed American cruiser USS Indianapolis are rescued after three and a half days stranded in the shark-infested waters of the Philippine Sea, an ordeal that killed nearly 900 of the ship’s crewmen.

1961: The Beatles perform their first show as the house band at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, the venue largely credited with launching their career.

2018: Social networking site TikTok becomes available worldwide for the first time.