This Day in History: August 4


1704 – Gibraltar captured by Britain. During the War of the Spanish Succession, Britain took control of Gibraltar on this day in 1704 after Spain surrendered, and “the Rock” subsequently became a British colony and a symbol of British naval strength.

Phoenix space probe

2007 – The U.S. space probe Phoenix was launched, and a year later it landed on Mars. Among its most-important discoveries was the existence of water ice beneath the planet’s surface.


1879 – Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Aeterni Patris, making Thomism the dominant philosophical viewpoint in Roman Catholicism.

World War I

1914 – In response to the German invasion of Belgium, Great Britain entered World War I, declaring war on Germany.

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