On this date:
In 1860, the nation’s first successful silver mill began operation near Virginia City, Nevada.
In 1909, the steamship SS Arapahoe became the first ship in North America to issue an S.O.S. distress signal, off North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras.
In 1934, the first federal prisoners arrived at Alcatraz Island (a former military prison) in San Francisco Bay.
In 1942, during World War II, Pierre Laval, prime minister of Vichy France, publicly declared that “the hour of liberation for France is the hour when Germany wins the war.
In 1954, a formal peace took hold in Indochina, ending more than seven years of fighting between the French and Communist Viet Minh.
In 1956, abstract painter Jackson Pollock, 44, died in an automobile accident on Long Island, New York.
In 1962, Andrian Nikolayev became the Soviet Union’s third cosmonaut in space as he was launched on a 94-hour flight.
In 1965, rioting and looting that claimed 34 lives broke out in the predominantly black Watts section of Los Angeles.
In 1975, the United States vetoed the proposed admission of North and South Vietnam to the United Nations, following the Security Council’s refusal to consider South Korea’s application.
In 1984, during a voice test for a paid political radio address, President Ronald Reagan joked that he had “signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.
In 1992, the Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping-entertainment center, opened in Bloomington, Minnesota.
In 2014, Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, 63, died in Tiburon, California, a suicide.
Ten years ago: President George W. Bush welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to his family’s estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won an easy and expected victory in a high-profile Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll. Funerals were held in Newark, New Jersey, for three college or college-bound students shot to death in a schoolyard. Big Ben’s bongs fell silent as workers began a month of maintenance work on the iconic London clock and its world-famous bell.
Five years ago: Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney announced his choice of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to be his running mate. Usain Bolt capped his perfect London Olympics by leading Jamaica to victory in a world-record 36.84 seconds in the 4×100 meters. Allyson Felix won her third gold medal as the Americans rolled to an easy victory in the women’s 4×400 relay. The heavily favored U.S. women’s basketball team won a fifth straight gold medal with an 86-50 victory over France.
One year ago: The Obama administration said it had decided marijuana would remain on the list of most dangerous drugs, rebuffing growing support across the country for broad legalization, but said it would allow more research into its medical uses. Michael Phelps won his fourth gold medal of the Rio Olympics and 22nd overall with a victory in the 200-meter individual medley. Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming with her win in the 100-meter freestyle, upsetting world-record holder Cate Campbell and tying with Penny Oleksiak of Canada. Simone Biles of the U.S. soared to the all-around title in women’s gymnastics.