7/24/2013 8:46:00 PM Moments in Time The History Channel
On Aug. 3, 1492, from the Spanish port of Palos, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets sail in command of three ships -- the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria -- on a journey to find a western sea route to China, India and Asia. In October, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China.
On July 29, 1909, the newly formed General Motors Corporation acquires the country's leading luxury automaker, the Cadillac Automobile Company, for $4.5 million. Cadillac was founded out of the ruins of automotive pioneer Henry Ford's second failed company. His third effort, the Ford Motor Company, finally succeeded.
On Aug. 4, 1914, as World War I erupts in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaims the neutrality of the United States. However, by June 1915, the first 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat.
On Aug. 2, 1934, Chancellor Adolf Hitler becomes absolute dictator of Germany under the title of Fuhrer, or "Leader." The Fuhrer assured his people that the Third Reich would last for a thousand years, but Nazi Germany collapsed just 11 years later.
On Aug. 1, 1943, a Japanese destroyer rams an American PT (patrol torpedo) boat, No. 109, slicing it in two. The destruction is so massive that other American PT boats in the area assume the crew is dead. Two crewmen were, in fact, killed, but 11 survived, including Lt. John F. Kennedy, who would later become president.