1901 — First barrel ride down Niagara Falls On this day in 1901, a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
After her husband died in the Civil War, the New York-born Taylor moved all over the U. S. before settling in Bay City, Michigan, around 1898. In July 1901, while reading an article about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, she learned of the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt: She would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
1917 — Battle of Caporetto
On this day in 1917, a combined German and Austro-Hungarian force scores one of the most crushing victories of World War I, decimating the Italian line along the northern stretch of the Isonzo River in the Battle of Caporetto, also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, or the Battle of Karfreit (to the Germans).
By the autumn of 1917, Italian Commander in Chief Luigi Cadorna's strategy of successive offensives near the Isonzo River in northern Italy—11 Italian attacks since May 1915 preceded the Austrian assault at Caporetto—had cost the Italians heavy casualties for an advance of less than seven miles, only one third of the way towards their preliminary objective, the city of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. Despite this, the wave of Italian attacks had also taken a serious toll on Austro-Hungarian resources in the region. Indeed, in the wake of the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo in August 1917, Austria's positions around the city of Gorizia were dangerously close to collapse. As a result, the German Supreme Command, led by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, determined with their Austrian counterpart, Arz von Straussenberg, to launch a combined operation against the Italians, intended for mid-September.
1951 — Truman declares war with Germany officially over
On this day in 1951, President Harry Truman finally proclaims that the nation's war with Germany, begun in 1941, is officially over. Fighting had ended in the spring of 1945.
Most Americans assumed that the war with Germany had ended with the cessation of hostilities six years earlier. In fact, a treaty with Germany had not been signed. Complicating the treaty process was the status of territory within what was formerly the German state. Following the Second World War, the major Western powers (U.S., Britain and France) and the Soviets agreed to divide the country, including the capital city of Berlin, into democratic and communist-controlled sectors. Both East and West Berlin ended up within the Soviet-controlled territory of East Germany and the capital became the epicenter of increasing tensions between the West and Soviet Russia. Each side claimed the other had violated post-war treaties regarding their respective spheres of influence in post-war Europe. The conflict over Berlin came to a head in June 1948 when Stalin ordered a blockade of the city. Truman did not want to abandon Berlin to the Soviets and ordered an airlift to supply the western sectors with food and fuel. The treaty process was put on hold until the Western powers could agree on what to do about Berlin. A Soviet atomic weapons test on October 3, 1951, increased the tension.
In his proclamation on this day, Truman stated that it had always been America's hope to create a treaty of peace with the government of a united and free Germany, but that Soviet policy had "made it impossible." The official end to the war came 10 years and two months after Congress had declared open war with Nazi Germany on December 11, 1941.
— This Day in History is courtesy of History.com.