July 17, 1704 – French-American fur trader and explorer Pierre-Charles Le Sueur died from yellow fever at the age of 46 (or 47) in Havanna, Cuba. He is recognized as the first known European to explore the Minnesota River valley.
July 17, 1776 - The Continental Congress learns of General George Washington’s refusal to accept a dispatch from British General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Viscount Howe, opening peace negotiations, because it failed to use the title “general.” In response, Congress proclaimed that the commander in chief acted “with a dignity becoming his station,” and directed all American commanders to receive only letters addressed to them “in the characters they respectively sustain.”
July 17, 1791 – Members of the French National Guard under the command of General Lafayette opened fire on a crowd of radical Jacobins at the Champ de Mars, Paris, during the French Revolution, killing as many as 50 people.
July 17, 1814 - Alabama author A. B. Meek was born in Columbia, S.C.
July 17, 1821 - Spain ceded Florida to the U.S.
July 17, 1829 – David Leigh became postmaster at Burnt Corn, Ala.
July 17, 1835 – Pinckney Downie Bowles was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina. He first entered Confederate service as a first lieutenant on Jan. 11, 1861 at Sparta and continued until May 1, 1862. He was elected captain on April 1, 1861 and re-enlisted as a captain on May 1, 1862 at Work Town, Va. with Co. E of the 4th Alabama Infantry and continued until the close of the war. He was promoted to major of Aug. 22, 1862 and was promoted to Lt. Col. on Sept. 30, 1862. He was promoted to colonel on Oct. 3, 1862 and was promoted to brigadier general on April 2, 1865. He passed away on July 25, 1910 in Tampa, Fla. and is buried in the Old Evergreen Cemetery in Evergreen, Ala.
July 17, 1859 – Editor Ernest Percival Rhys was born in London.
July 17, 1862 - National cemeteries were authorized by the U.S. government.
July 17, 1862 - U.S. President Lincoln approved the Confiscation Act. The act declared that any slaves whose owners were in rebellion would be freed when they came into contact with the Union army.
July 17, 1863 - In New York, order was restored by Union troops returning from Gettysburg. The riots began on July 11.
July 17, 1864 - Confederate President Jefferson Davis replaced General Joseph Johnston with John Bell Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee. Davis, impatient with Johnston’s defensive strategy in the Atlanta campaign, felt that Hood stood a better chance of saving Atlanta from the forces of Union General William T. Sherman. Davis selected Hood for his reputation as a fighting general, in contrast to Johnston’s cautious nature.
July 17, 1867 – The Harvard Dental School, the first university-based dental school in the United States, was founded. Before the school’s founding, aspiring dentists went to freestanding trade schools or learned by apprenticeship. The world’s first dental training program had been established in Baltimore in 1840, but dentistry wasn’t considered a branch of medicine, and programs were not included in curricula.
July 17, 1881 – American scout and explorer Jim Bridger died on his farm near Kansas City, Mo. at the age of 77. He was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States during the decades of 1820–1850, as well as mediating between native tribes and encroaching whites.
July 17, 1889 – American author Erle Stanley Gardner, the creater of fictional criminal lawyer Perry Mason, was born in Malden, Mass.
July 17, 1892 – Sidney Earnest Manning, who received the Medal of Honor during World War I, was born in Shackleville in Butler County, Ala.
July 17, 1894 – Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaitre was born in Charleroi, Belgium. He proposed the big bang theory, maintaining that the universe originated with a gigantic explosion of what he called a small super-atom, and that the universe is constantly expanding.
July 17, 1915 – A picnic was scheduled to be held in the grove at A.S. Bennett’s on this Saturday, and the baseball teams from Mt. Olive and Bowles were scheduled to “cross bats.”
July 17, 1915 – Castleberry Mayor J.M. Thomas visited Evergreen, Ala.
July 17, 1917 – National Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop and manager Lou Boudreau was born in Harvey, Ill. He went on to play for the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox and managed the Indians, Red Sox, Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago Cubs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970.
July 17, 1918 – Army Pvt. Abraham Emmons of Brewton, Ala. was killed in action during World War I.
July 17, 1933 – After successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Lithuanian research aircraft Lituanica crashed in Europe under mysterious circumstances.
July 17, 1933 - Pilot Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan took off on a flight from New York to California, but ended up flying overseas to Ireland, due to what he claimed was a navigational error.
July 17, 1934 – In local baseball league action, an announcement was made that local umpire J.O. Stapp had resigned and would be replaced by “Sullivan” Murphy. It was also announced that pitcher Herbert English of Range had been acquired by the Evergreen team and would begin playing for Evergreen on Sun., July 22.
July 17, 1936 – The Spanish Civil War began.
July 17, 1939 – John Lucas shot Ben Kidd in the chest and face with a shotgun, killing him instantly, during an argument over a dog at Packers Bend, Ala. He was arrested by Wilcox County officers, but was later brought to the Monroe County Jail in Monroeville by Sheriff J.L. Bowden. Lucas was charged with murder.
July 17, 1941 - New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio saw his 56-game hitting streak come to an end when he failed to get a hit against the Cleveland Indians. The record run, which began on May 15, 1941, had captivated the country for two months.
July 17, 1945 - U.S. President Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II. During the meeting Stalin made the comment that "Hitler had escaped."
July 17, 1948 - The Dixiecrat Convention assembled in Birmingham, Ala. with over 6,000 delegates from across the South in attendance. They selected Strom Thurmond as their candidate for President for their States' Rights Party. In the 1948 presidential election the Dixiecrats carried four states, including Alabama, where Democratic candidate Harry Truman's name did not even appear on the ballot.
July 17, 1950 – Sgt. Charles Wayne Turberville of Finchburg, Ala. was born. A 1968 graduate of Monroe County High School, he joined the Marine Corps after high school, became a member of the prestigious Marine Security Guard Battalion and at the age of 21 he was killed while on duty at the American Embassy in Phnom Penhm, Cambodia during a Khmer Rouge terrorist attack on Sept. 26, 1971. He’s buried at Bryant Cemetery at Finchburg.
July 17, 1952 – Novelist Robert R. McCammon was born in Birmingham, Ala.
July 17, 1955 – The Disneyland theme park opened in Anaheim, Calif. More than 1 million people visited the park in its first seven weeks and by all accounts it was a disaster, women's heels sunk into the asphalt, rides broke down, and there was a gas leak.
July 17, 1961 – National Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder Ty Cobb passed away at the age of 74 in Atlanta, Ga. During his career, he played for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics and managed the Tigers from 1921 to 1926. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936.
July 17, 1965 - Alabama author James Saxon Childers died in Atlanta, Ga.
July 17, 1968 – A revolution occurd in Iraq when Abdul Rahman Arif was overthrown and the Ba'ath Party was installed as the governing power in Iraq with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr as the new Iraqi President.
July 16, 1969 - Three men left Earth on a trip to the moon. A few days later, on July 20, two of them will walk on the lunar surface. It was a significant moment in space exploration. The NASA teams in Huntsville, Ala. contributed significantly to the mission. Saturn V rockets, developed at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, powered each of the 13 Apollo missions launched between 1967 and 1973. The astronauts who explored the moon in 1971 and 1972 used a lunar roving vehicle (LRV) designed at Marshall.
July 17, 1971 – Army Spc. Allen Earl Noble of Thomasville, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.
July 17, 1974 – National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean passed away at the age of 64 in Reno, Nevada. During his career, he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Browns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953.
July 17, 2007 – Sylacauga, Ala. native and former Jefferson Davis Community College baseball player Ehren Wassermann was called up from the Triple-A Charlotte Knights to the Chicago White Sox for the injured Nick Masset. Wassermann would make his MLB debut three days later.