On this day U.S. President James Madison signed a declaration of war against Great Britain, initiating the War of 1812, which arose chiefly from U.S. grievances over oppressive maritime practices during the Napoleonic Wars.
More Events on this day:
1983: The first American woman to fly into outer space, Sally Ride, was launched with four other astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
1940: Broadcasting from London after France fell to the Nazis, French General Charles de Gaulle appealed to his compatriots to continue World War II under his leadership.
1429: Joan of Arc led the French army against the English at Patay, France.
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online Daily