July 8, 1497 – Vasco da Gama set sail on the first direct European voyage to India.
July 8, 1538 – Spanish general and explorer Diego de Almagro, age 62 or 63, was executed by garrote in a dungeon and then decapitated in Cuzco, New Castile, Spanish Empire. His corpse was taken to the public Plaza Mayor of Cuzco, where a herald proclaimed his crimes. Almagro, a companion and later rival of Francisco Pizarro, was a Spanish conquistador, who participated in the Spanish conquest of Peru and is credited as the first European discoverer of Chile.
July 8, 1608 - The first French settlement at Quebec was established by Samuel de Champlain.
July 8, 1663 – Charles II of England granted John Clarke a Royal charter to Rhode Island.
July 8, 1755 - Britain broke off diplomatic relations with France as their disputes in the New World intensified.
July 8, 1775 – The Olive Branch Petition was signed by the Continental Congress of the Thirteen Colonies of North America.
July 8, 1776 – From the tower of the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the 2,000-pound copper-and-tin “Liberty Bell” range out, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Col. John Nixon gave the first public reading at Independence Square. Four days earlier, the historic document had been adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress, but the bell did not ring to announce the issuing of the document until the Declaration of Independence returned from the printer on July 8.
July 8, 1777 - A convention of delegates in Windsor, Vermont formally adopted the state's new constitution.
July 8, 1819 – Irish admiral and explorer Francis Leopold McClintock was born in Dundalk, County Louth. A former officer in the British Royal Navy, McClintock is best known for his discoveries in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
July 8, 1857 – French psychologist Alfred Binet was born in Nice, France.
July 8, 1863 - Port Hudson, the Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River in Louisiana, fell to Nathaniel Banks' Union force. Less than a week after the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Confederate garrison’s surrender at Port Hudson cleared another obstacle for the Federals on the Mississippi River. Port Hudson was defended by General Franklin Gardner and a force of 3,500 men, but word of Vicksburg’s surrender convinced Gardner that further resistance was futile
July 8, 1864 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Vienna, Ala.
July 8, 1865 - C.E. Barnes patented the machine gun.
July 8, 1877 – John Sampey Sr., one of Conecuh County’s original settlers, cattle farmers and Methodists, died at the age of 76 in Belleville, Ala. Sampey was born in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland on April 20, 1801 and sailed for America on Sept. 12, 1824. He is buried in the Belleville United Methodist Church Cemetery.
July 8, 1879 – The sailing ship USS Jeannette departed San Francisco carrying an ill-fated expedition to the North Pole.
July 8, 1889 – The first issue of The Wall Street Journal was published.
July 8, 1891 - Future President Warren G. Harding married a spunky divorcee named Florence Mabel Kling DeWolfe in Marion, Ohio. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, was the great-grandson of Conecuh County’s Henchie Warren, who is said to have hid a chest of gold in Shipps Pond.
July 8, 1892 – Novelist and poet Richard Aldington was born in Edward Godfree Aldington in Portsmouth, England.
July 8, 1912 – Castleberry, Ala. town marshal M.C. Johnson arrested Roland Baggett and a “young man named Crockett” on charges of attempted murder and placed them in the Conecuh County Jail in Evergreen. Allegedly, Baggett and Crockett attempted to kill Bob Knight of Castleberry on July 6. Knight had been shot in the back with a .32-caliber bullet that passed through his body and his chances of recovery didn’t look good.
July 8, 1914 – The Evergreen Courant reported that William Ellis “exhibited a piece of broken earthenware here recently which he says he found 30 feet under the surface of the earth while boring a well on his premises. How it came there is unexplainable.”
July 8, 1918 - Ernest Hemingway was severely wounded while carrying a companion to safety on the Austro-Italian front during World War I. Hemingway, working as a Red Cross ambulance driver, was decorated for his heroism and sent home. He would received the Pulitizer Prize in 1953 for his novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.”
July 8, 1926 – Psychiatrist and writer Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was born in Zurich, Switzerland.
July 8, 1929 – Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Shirley Ann Grau was born in New Orleans. She won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1965 for “The Keepers of the House.”
July 8, 1937 – Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan signed the Treaty of Saadabad.
July 8, 1941 - With his team trailing 5-4 with two outs in the ninth inning, Ted Williams hits a three-run home run to lead the American League to a 7-5 victory in the All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.
July 8, 1947 – In what became known as the “Roswell UFO Incident,” the U.S. Army announced it had recovered a crashed flying disc near Roswell, New Mexico. Quickly afterward they retracted the story, and said it was actually a "weather balloon."
July 8, 1950 – Melvin Salter, the son of Hilliard Salter of Evergreen, Ala. was reported missing in action in Korea. He served with the paratroopers in World War II and reenlisted about two years before he went missing.
July 8, 1951 - The city of Paris celebrated her 2,000th birthday.
July 8, 1953 - Notre Dame announced that the next five years of its football games would be shown in theatres over closed circuit TV.
July 8, 1959 - Maj. Dale R. Ruis and Master Sgt. Chester M. Ovnand became the first Americans killed in the American phase of the Vietnam War when guerrillas struck a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) compound in Bien Hoa, 20 miles northeast of Saigon.
July 8, 1963 - Eddie Rankin, age six, of Route F, Evergreen, Ala., was killed this afternoon when he dashed into the path of a 1962 Ford, driven by Mrs. Velma Worlds of Route 1, Castleberry. “Trooper Cargile said that it was impossible for Mrs. World’s to avoid hitting the child.”
July 8, 1965 – John Sale of Brewton, Ala., the reigning state high school champion, defeated Forrest Watkins of Monroeville in a 18-hole playoff for the championship of the Evergreen Golf Club’s July 4th Invitational Tournament.
July 8, 1965 - Author T. S. Stribling died in Florence, Ala.
July 8, 1970 - The San Francisco Giant’s Jim Ray Hart became the first National League player in 59 seasons to collect six runs batted (RBI) during a single inning.
July 8, 1982 – An assassination attempt against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in Dujail occurred.
July 8, 1994 – Swedish-American businessman and explorer Lars-Eric Lindblad died of a sudden heart attack while on vacation in Stockholm. Lindblad pioneered tourism to many remote and exotic parts of the world, led the first tourist expedition to Antarctica in 1966 in a chartered Argentine navy ship and for many years operated his own vessel, the MS Lindblad Explorer, in the region.
July 4, 2000 - J.K. Rowling's fourth Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," was released in the U.S.
July 4, 2002 - U.S. President George W. Bush promised to "use all the tools at our disposal" to bring down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
July 8, 2008 - Luther Upton, then age 61, of Evergreen announced that he had qualified to run for the District 3 seat on the Evergreen City Council during municipal elections on Aug. 26, 2008.
July 8, 2013 – “Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls,” a reality competition series filmed in New Zealand, premiered on NBC.