This Day in History - August 1
1838: Governor Sir Lionel Smith reads the Proclamation of Freedom to a crowd of 8,000 in Jamaica's historic Spanish Town square; Large congregations of ex-slaves attend thanksgiving services across the island in celebration of their newly won freedom. The day is now observed as Emancipation Day.
1291: The Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Nidwalden sign a mutual defence pact and are later joined by surrounding areas to form the Republic of Switzerland. It is the oldest government still in existence.
1560: Scotland's Parliament abolishes papal jurisdiction and approves a Calvinistic confession of faith, thus founding the Church of Scotland.
1625: The British Parliament moves to Oxford to save itself from decimation as the black plague rages through London, killing thousands each week.
1790: The first US census is completed, showing a population of four million.
1808: British troops land in Portugal to help oust French forces, succeeding a year later.
1834: The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 which was passed by Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, comes into effect in the British colonies, of which Jamaica is part.
1894: Japan and China declare war on each other over dominance in Korea. China is forced to cede Taiwan when the war ends after a year.
1927: Communists rise in Nanchang, China, and hold the city for a few days. The event is now celebrated as the origin of the People's Liberation Army.
1936: The Olympic Games open in Berlin with a ceremony presided over by Adolf Hitler.
1958: Jordan's King Hussein dissolves federation of Jordan with Iraq.
1966: The Chinese Communist Party opens a meeting that declares the start of the ultra-leftist Cultural Revolution, which lasts 10 years.
1981: Rock-music video channel MTV makes its first broadcast.
1993: The US Coast Guard stops listening for Morse code distress signals on the 500-kilohertz radio frequency, which it had monitored continuously since 1924.
1995: A Swiss woman, Bea Wyler, 44, becomes Germany's first female rabbi since the Holocaust. The appointment stirs controversy within Germany's Jewish community.
2001: Britain's Queen Mother Elizabeth is hospitalised for treatment of anaemia, three days before her 101st birthday; Azerbaijan switches to the Latin alphabet from Cyrillic to reduce Russian influence on Azeri culture.
2005: Southern Sudanese riot in Khartoum, smashing cars and shops and blaming the government for the death in a helicopter crash of their hero, Vice President John Garang.
2011: Muqtada al-Sadr lambasts the American "enemy" in Iraq during his first speech in the country since returning from exile, fiery rhetoric from a new powerbroker in the government that will make it difficult to extend the U.S. military deployment beyond the end of this year.
Herman Melville, US author (1819-1891); Richard Henry Dana, US writer (1815-1862); Yves St Laurent, French fashion designer (1936-2008) ; Dom DeLuise, US actor (1933-2009); Chuck D, US rapper (1960-); Coolio, US rapper (1963-); Sam Mendes, British film director (1965-); Tempestt Bledsoe, US actress (1973-).