Today is the 213th day of 2012. There are 153 days left in the year.
1838: Queen Victoria of England grants full freedom to all slaves in Jamaica, effective midnight tonight. Many journey to the hilltops to greet the sunrise of Friday, August 1, a new beginning in their lives.
1498: During his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus arrives at the island of Trinidad.
1834: The Emancipation Act is passed in the British West Indies at midnight. It declares all slave children under age six, and any born after that date, free. All other slaves are apprenticed to their former masters up to August 1, 1838.
1919: Germany adopts Weimar Constitution.
962: Britain agrees to establish wider Malaysian federation.
1986: Britain's cabinet unanimously supports Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's resistance to stiff sanctions against South Africa.
1990: US government panel approves use of gene therapy for first time in treatment of human disease.
1994: UN Security Council approves possible US-led invasion of Haiti.
1998: South Africa ends the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's public exploration of apartheid's horrors after two years of hearings that laid bare decades of massacres, beatings and torture.
2004: World Trade Organisation members approve a plan to end export subsidies on farm products and cut import duties across the world, a key step toward a comprehensive global accord that has been discussed since 2001, trade officials say.
2005: Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora visits Syria in an attempt to repair relations damaged after Damascus was forced to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon.
2007: Deployment of British troops to support Northern Ireland police, codenamed Operation Banner, officially ends after 38 years.
2008: Haitian lawmakers ratify Michele Pierre-Louis to be the country's prime minister, ending more than three months of political bickering and deadlock in Parliament.
Augustus, leader of Protestant Germany (1526-1586), John Ericsson, Swedish-born inventor (1803-1889); Milton Friedman, US economist (1912-2006); Henri Brisson, French statesman (1835-1912), Primo Levi, Italian writer/chemist (1919-1987); Whitney Young, US civil rights leader (1921-1971); Wesley Snipes, US actor (1962-); JK Rowling, British author of Harry Potter books (1965-); Dean Cain, US actor (1966-).
—AP and the Jamaica Observer