July 8th

The space shuttle Atlantis launches into space for the last time from the Kennedy Space Center. It is the 135th and final flight of the space shuttle program, which started in 1981. For its final mission, the Atlantis is carrying 8,000 lbs of spare parts and supplies to the International Space Station. The space shuttle program officially ends when the Atlantis returns two weeks later.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
Kim Jong-il takes office as the Supreme Leader of North Korea. Popularly known as "Dear Leader" in his country, Kim Jong-il took North Korea's highest office after the death of his father, Kim Il-sung. He ruled the country with an iron fist until his death in 2011, when his son, Kim Jong-un took his place. Kim Jong-il's tenure was marred by widespread human rights violations and severe famine in the country.
Kim Jong-il
Kurt Waldheim was inaugurated as president of Austria.
Kurt Waldheim
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) awarded the first official gold album. It was for the Oklahoma soundtrack.
Music recording sales certification
General Douglas MacArthur was named commander-in-chief of the United Nations forces in Korea.
United Nations Command
500th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated in Moscow.
List of Orthodox churches in Toronto
Wall Street Journal published for the first time. Three financial reporters named Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser created The Wall Street Journal to supersede a previous periodical called the Customers' Afternoon Letter.
The Wall Street Journal
Commodore Matthew C. Perry sails his frigate Susquehanna into Tokyo Bay, opening Japan to Western influence and trade.
Matthew C. Perry
Dr Benjamin Waterhouse gives 1st cowpox vaccination in the US to his son to prevent smallpox.
Smallpox vaccine
Vermont abolishes slavery. Vermont adopted its constitution that abolished slavery, becoming the first region in the now United States to abolish slavery. The constitution was adopted after Vermont declared independence from the British empire.
History of slavery in Vermont
The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was given in Philadelphia, Pa.
United States Declaration of Independence
Vasco da Gama sets off on a voyage to India from Lisbon with 4 ships. A year later, he reached the city of Calicut in southern India and became the first European to set foot in India by way of the sea.
Vasco da Gama
First Crusade: 15,000 starving Christian soldiers march in religious procession around Jerusalem as its Muslim defenders look on.
July 8