ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
August 1, 1944 - Anne Frank penned her last entry into her diary. "[I] keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would like to be, and what I could be, if...there weren't any other people living in the world." Three days later, Anne and her family were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Anne died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on March 15, 1945, at age 15.
August 2, 1776
- In Philadelphia, most of the 55 members of the Continental Congress signed the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence
August 2, 1923
- President Warren G. Harding
died suddenly in a hotel in San Francisco while on a Western speaking tour. His administration had been tainted by the Teapot Dome political scandal and his sudden death prompted many unfounded rumors. He was succeeded the next day by Calvin Coolidge
August 2, 1939
- Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt
concerning the possibility of atomic weapons. "A single bomb of this type carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory." Six years later, on August 6, 1945, the first Atomic Bomb, developed by the U.S., was dropped on the Japanese port of Hiroshima.
August 3, 1492 - Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three ships, Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Seeking a westerly route to the Far East, he instead landed on October 12th in the Bahamas, thinking it was an outlying Japanese island.
August 4, 1964 - Three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were found murdered and buried in an earthen dam outside Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had disappeared on June 21 after being detained by Neshoba County police on charges of speeding. They were participating in the Mississippi Summer Project organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to increase black voter registration. When their car was found burned on June 23, President Lyndon Johnson ordered the FBI to search for the men.
Birthday - Jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Known as "Satchmo," he appeared in many films and is best known for his renditions of It's a Wonderful World and Hello, Dolly.
Birthday - Barack Obama
the 44th U.S. President was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. His father was from Kenya, Africa, while his mother was originally from Kansas. Upon completing his college education, young Obama moved to Chicago, becoming active in community affairs. He then attended Harvard Law School, becoming the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. He returned to Chicago, worked in a law firm, then entered politics. Elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996, he went on to become a U.S. Senator in 2004. Four years later, he successfully challenged former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination and went on to defeat Republican John McCain in the general election, November 4, 2008, thus becoming the first President of African-American origin.
August 5, 1583 - The first British colony in North America was founded by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a British navigator and explorer. He sighted the Newfoundland coast and took possession of the area around St. John's harbor in the name of the Queen. He was later lost at sea in a storm off the Azores on his return trip to England.
August 5, 1861
- President Abraham Lincoln
signed into law the first Federal income tax, a 3 percent tax on incomes over $800, as an emergency wartime measure during the Civil War
. However, the tax was never actually put into effect.
August 5, 1962 - Film star Marilyn Monroe died at age 36 from an overdose of sleeping pills. She made 29 films during her career and came to symbolize Hollywood glamour.
August 5, 2011 - Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency downgraded the United States debt from its highest rating of AAA to a lesser AA+ rating, marking the first-ever decline of credit worthiness for the U.S. The agency cited America’s $14 trillion in outstanding debt and
August 6-10, 1787 - The Great Debate occurred during the Constitutional Convention. Outcomes included the establishment of a four-year term of office for the President, granting Congress the right to regulate foreign trade and interstate commerce, and the appointment of a committee to prepare a final draft of the Constitution.
August 6, 1945
- The first Atomic Bomb was dropped over the center of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m., by the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay
. The bomb detonated about 1,800 ft. above ground, killing over 105,000 persons and destroying the city
. Another estimated 100,000 persons later died as a result of radiation effects
August 6, 1965
- The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law
by President Lyndon B. Johnson
. The Act suspended literacy, knowledge and character tests designed to keep African Americans from voting in the South. It also authorized the appointment of Federal voting examiners and barred discriminatory poll taxes. The Act was renewed by Congress in 1975, 1984 and 1991.
Birthday - Penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) was born in Lochfield, Scotland. By accident, he found that mold from soil killed deadly bacteria without injuring human tissue. He received the Nobel Prize in 1954.
August 7, 1964
- Following an attack on two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin
off North Vietnam, the U.S. Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, granting President Lyndon B. Johnson authority "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."
August 7, 1990
- Just five days after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, President George Bush
ordered Desert Shield, a massive military buildup to prevent further Iraqi advances.
August 9, 1945
- The second Atomic bombing of Japan occurred as an American B-29 bomber headed for the city of Kokura, but because of poor visibility then chose a secondary target, Nagasaki. About noon, the bomb detonated
killing an estimated 70,000 persons and destroying
about half the city.
August 9, 1974
- Effective at noon, Richard M. Nixon resigned
the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal. Nixon had appeared on television the night before and announced his decision
to the American people. Facing possible impeachment by Congress, he became the only U.S. President ever to resign.
August 11, 1841
- Frederick Douglass,
an escaped slave, spoke before an audience in the North for the first time. During an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, he gave a powerful, emotional account of his life as a slave. He was immediately asked to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society.
August 11-16, 1965 - Six days of riots began in the Watts area of Los Angeles, triggered by an incident between a white member of the California Highway Patrol and an African American motorist. Thirty-four deaths were reported and more than 3,000 people were arrested. Damage to property was listed at $40 million.
August 13, 1961
- The Berlin Wall came into existence after the East German government closed the border between east and west sectors of Berlin with barbed wire to discourage emigration to the West. The barbed wire was replaced by a 12-foot-high concrete wall eventually extending 103 miles (166 km) around the perimeter of West Berlin. The wall included electrified fences, fortifications, and guard posts. It became a notorious symbol of the Cold War. Presidents Kennedy
made notable appearances at the wall accompanied by speeches denouncing Communism. The wall was finally opened by an East German governmental decree in November 1989 and torn down by the end of 1990.
Birthday - Wild West performer Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was born in Darke County, Ohio. Famous for her shooting ability, she joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885 and was one of the star attractions for 17 years.
Birthday - British film director Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) was born in London. His suspenseful films included classics such as The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Suspicion, Notorious, Rear Window, The Birds, Psycho and Frenzy, in addition to his American TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
August 14, 1935 - President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act establishing the system which guarantees pensions to those who retire at age 65. The Social Security system also aids states in providing financial aid to dependent children, the blind and others, as well as administering a system of unemployment insurance.
August 14, 1941
- After three days of secret meetings aboard warships
off the coast of Newfoundland, the Atlantic Charter was issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Charter, a foundation stone for the later establishment of the United Nations, set forth eight goals for the nations of the world, including; the renunciation of all aggression, right to self-government, access to raw materials, freedom from want and fear, freedom of the seas, and disarmament of aggressor nations. By September, fifteen anti-Axis nations signed the Charter.
August 14, 1945
- Following the two Atomic Bomb drops and believing that continuation of the war would only result in further loss of Japanese lives, delegates of Emperor Hirohito accepted Allied surrender terms originally issued at Potsdam on July 26, 1945, with the exception that the Japanese Emperor's sovereignty would be maintained. Japanese Emperor Hirohito, who had never spoken on radio, then recorded an announcement admitting Japan's surrender, without actually using the word. The announcement was broadcast via radio to the Japanese people at noon the next day. The formal surrender ceremony
occurred later, on September 2, 1945, on board the USS Missouri
in Tokyo Bay.
August 14, 1945
- V-J Day, commemorating President Truman's announcement
that Japan had surrendered to the Allies.
August 15, 1969 - Woodstock began in a field near Yasgur's Farm at Bethel, New York. The three-day concert featured 24 rock bands and drew a crowd of more than 300,000 young people. The event came to symbolize the counter-culture movement of the 1960's.
August 16, 1777
- During the American Revolutionary War
, the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, occurred as militiamen from Vermont, aided by Massachusetts troops, wiped out a detachment of 800 German-Hessians sent by British General Burgoyne to seize horses.
August 16, 1780 - The Battle of Camden in South Carolina occurred during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a big defeat for the Americans as forces under General Gates were defeated by troops of British General Charles Cornwallis, resulting in 900 Americans killed and 1,000 captured.
August 16, 1896 - Gold was discovered in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River in Alaska, resulting in the Great Klondike Gold Rush.
August 16, 1977 - Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at the Memphis Baptist Hospital at 3:30 p.m., at age 42.
August 17, 1943
- During World War II in Europe
, the Allies completed the conquest of the island of Sicily after just 38 days. This gave the Allies control of the Mediterranean and also led to the downfall of Benito Mussolini and Italy's eventual withdrawal from the war. However, the Germans managed to evacuate 39,569 troops, 47 tanks, 94 heavy guns, over 9,000 vehicles and 2,000 tons of ammunition back to the Italian mainland from Sicily.
August 17, 1978 - The first transatlantic balloon trip was completed by three Americans; Max Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, and Larry Newman, all from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Starting from Maine on August 11th, they traveled in Double Eagle II over 3,000 miles in 137 hours, landing about 60 miles west of Paris.
August 17, 1998
- Bill Clinton became the first sitting President to give testimony before a grand jury in which he, the President, was the focus of the investigation. This resulted from a sweeping investigation of the President by Independent Counsel Ken Starr as well as a private lawsuit concerning alleged sexual harassment by Clinton before he became President. In the evening, President Clinton appeared on national television and gave a speech
admitting he had engaged in an improper relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The admission occurred several months after a much-publicized denial.
Birthday - American frontiersman Davy Crockett (1786-1836) was born in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He was a farmer, scout and politician who perished at age 49 during the final heroic defense of the Alamo in Texas.
August 18, 1920
- The 19th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.
Birthday - American explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) was born near Charlottesville, Virginia. Along with William Clark, he explored the American West, and in 1805, after a journey of over 18 months, reached the Pacific Ocean.
August 21, 1863
- During the American Civil War
, William Quantrill led 450 irregular Confederate raiders on a pre-dawn terrorist raid of Lawrence, Kansas, leaving 150 civilians dead, 30 wounded and much of the town a smoking ruin. In 1862, Quantrill had been denied a Confederate commission by the Confederate Secretary of War, who labeled Quantrill's notions of war as 'barbarism.'
August 21, 1959
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower
signed a proclamation admitting Hawaii to the Union as the 50th state.
August 21, 1983 - Filipino opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., was assassinated at the Manila airport while leaving his plane. Public outcry over the killing ultimately led to the collapse of the government of Ferdinand E. Marcos and the inauguration of Corazon C. Aquino, widow of the slain man, as president.
August 22, 1986 - Deadly fumes from a volcanic eruption under Lake Nios in Cameroon killed more than 1,500 persons.
August 23, 1927 - Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were electrocuted inside a prison at Charlestown, Massachusetts. They had been convicted of a shoe factory payroll robbery during which the paymaster and a guard had been killed. Following their convictions, all appeals for a new trial had failed, despite the lack of hard evidence and a later admission by a known criminal that he had participated in the robbery with an organized criminal gang. The days and weeks leading up to their execution aroused worldwide protests amid accusations of unfair treatment because they had radical political views and were Italian.
August 24, 79 A.D. - Vesuvius, an active volcano in southern Italy, erupted and destroyed the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum.
August 24-25, 1814 - During the War of 1812, Washington, D.C., was invaded by British forces that burned the Capitol, the White House and most other public buildings along with a number of private homes. The burning was in retaliation for the earlier American burning of York (Toronto).
August 25, 1985 - Samantha Smith died in an airplane crash in Maine. In 1982, the 11-year-old American schoolgirl had written a letter to Soviet Russia's leader Yuri Andropov asking, "Why do you want to conquer the whole world, or at least our country?" To her surprise, Andropov replied personally to her and offered an all-expense paid trip to the U.S.S.R. She toured Russia for two weeks amid worldwide publicity and came to symbolize American and Russian hopes for peaceful co-existence.
Birthday - American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Considered one of the finest conductors in American music history, his works included West Side Story, On the Town, and the opera Candide.
August 26, 1883 - One of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in recorded history occurred on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa. Explosions were heard 2,000 miles away. Tidal waves 120 ft. high killed 36,000 persons on nearby islands, while five cubic miles of earth were blasted into the air up to a height of 50 miles.
August 28, 1963
- The March on Washington
occurred as over 250,000 persons
attended a Civil Rights rally in Washington, D.C., at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his now-famous I Have a Dream
August 29, 1792 - In one of the worst maritime disasters, 900 men drowned on the British battleship Royal George. As the ship was being repaired, a gust of wind allowed water to flood into open gun ports. The ship sank within minutes.
August 29, 1991 - Following the unsuccessful coup of August 19-21, the Soviet Communist Party was suspended, thus ending the institution that ruled Soviet Russia for nearly 75 years.
August 31, 1786 - Shays' Rebellion began in Massachusetts as ex-Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays led an armed mob. The rebellion prevented the Northampton Court from holding a session in which debtors, mostly poor ex-soldier farmers, were to be tried and likely put in prison. Following this, in September, Shays' troops prevented Supreme Court sessions at Springfield, Massachusetts. Early in 1787, they attacked the Federal arsenal at Springfield, but were soon routed and fled. Shays was sentenced to death but was pardoned in 1788.
August 31, 1997
- Britain's Princess Diana
died at age 36 from massive internal injuries suffered in a high-speed car crash, reportedly after being pursued by photographers. The crash occurred shortly after midnight in Paris inside a tunnel along the Seine River at the Pont de l'Alma bridge, less than a half mile north of the Eiffel Tower. Also killed in the crash were Diana's companion, Dodi Fayed, 42, and chauffeur Henri Paul. A fourth person in the car, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, was seriously injured.