THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – AUGUST

Below please find a list of significant historical events that have occurred during the month of August.

August 1, 1838 –  Slavery in Jamaica, which had been introduced by Spain in 1509, was abolished.

August 1, 1944 –  Fifteen year-old Anne Frank, who was fated to be captured by the Nazis three days later and killed at Bergen-Belsen, wrote her final entry into her famous 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.”

August 2, 1776 – Most of the 55 signatories to the Declaration of Independence signed the original document (not on July 4, as is commonly believed).

August 2, 1923 –  President Warren Harding died suddenly and was succeeded by Calvin Coolidge.

August 3, 1492 – Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain seeking the elusive Northwest Passage to Asia.  Do you remember the names of the three ships in his convoy?  See below.

August 5, 1583 – Explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert founded the first British colony in North America in present-day Newfoundland.

August 5, 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an emergency war measure to levy a 3% income tax on income in excess of $800.

August 5, 1962 – Actress Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson), symbol of Hollywood glamor and sexuality, was found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills.

August 6, 1945 – The US drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, destroying the city, and hastening the end of WWII.

August 6, 1962 – Jamaica achieved independence, ending some 450 years of colonial rule first by Spain and then by England.

August 6, 1965 – President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

August 7, 1964 – Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which provided legal “cover” for the US’s entry into the Vietnam War.

August 9, 1945 –  The US drops a second atomic bomb (on Nagasaki).

August 9, 1974 – President Richard Nixon resigned as a result of the Watergate scandal.

August 11, 1965 – Six days of  racial riots began in the Watts section of LA.  The riots resulted in a reported 34 deaths, over 3,000 arrests and property damage estimated at $40 million.

August 13, 1961 – East Germany put up the Berlin Wall separating West and East Berlin.

August 14, 1935 – FDR signed the Social Security Act.

August 14, 1945 – V-J Day commemorating Japan’s surrender, which marked the official end of WWII.

August 15, 1969 – The Woodstock festival began in Bethel, NY.

August 16, 1896 – Gold was discovered along the Klondike River in Alaska, precipitating what became known as the Great Klondike Gold Rush.

August 18, 1920 – Ratification of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.

August 21, 1959 – Hawaii was admitted to the Union as the 50th state.

August 24, 79 A. D. – The volcano, Vesuvius, erupted destroying the cities of Pompeii, Stabiac and Herculaneum.

August 24-25, 1814 – During the War of 1812 the British attacked Washington D.C. and burned much of the city, including the White House and the Capitol.

August 26, 1883 – One of the most catastrophic volcano eruptions ever recorded occurred on the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia.  It produced tidal waves of 120 feet and killed 36,000 persons.

August 28, 1963 – Over 250,000 persons participated in the March on Washington in support of civil rights.  One of the many speakers was the Reverend MLK, who gave the famous I Have a Dream speech.

August 31, 1997 – Princess Diana died from injuries suffered in an auto accident while fleeing from pursuing paparazzi.

Birthdays – Francis Scott Key (wrote the Star Spangled Banner), 8/1/1779 in Maryland; Herman Melville (wrote Moby Dick), 8/1/1819 in New York City; Ernie Pyle (WWII war correspondent), 8/3/1900 in Dana, IN; Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong (Jazz trumpeter),8/4/1901 in New Orleans Quiz question #2 – Do you know the derivation of his very unusual nickname?); Raoul Wallenberg (saved 33,000 Jews from the Holocaust), 8/4/1912 in Stockholm; Barack Obama (44th US President), 8/4/1961 in Honolulu; Alfred Lord Tennyson (poet, wrote Charge of the Light Brigade), 8/6/1809 in England; Alexander Fleming (discovered penicillin), 8/6/1881 in Scotland;  Herbert Hoover (31st US President), 8/10/1874 in West Branch, IA; Alex Haley (wrote Roots), 8/11/1921 in Ithaca, NY; Cecil B. DeMille (directed The Ten Commandments), 8/12/1881 in Ashfield, MA; Annie Oakley (sharpshooter), 8/13,1860 in Ohio; Alfred Hitchcock (British film director, The Birds, Psycho), 8/13/1899 in London; Fidel Castro, 8/13/1927 in Cuba; Napoleon Bonaparte, 8/15/1769, on the island of Corsica; T. E. Lawrence, 8/16/1888 in North Wales, Quiz Question #3 – Who played Lawrence in the Oscar-winning movie, Lawrence of Arabia?); Menachem Begin, 8/16/1913 in Poland; Davy Crockett, 8/17/1786 in Tennessee; Meriwether Lewis, 8/18/1774 near Charlottesville, VA; Orville Wright, 8/19/1871 in Dayton, OH; William Jefferson Clinton (42nd US President), 8/19/1946 in Hope, Arkansas; Benjamin Harrison (23rd US President), 8/20/1833 in North Bend, OH, (Quiz question #4 – He was the grandson of another president. Who?); Leonard Bernstein (conductor and composer), 8/25/1918 in Lawrence, MA; Lyndon Baines Johnson (36th US President), 8/27/1908 near Stonewall, TX; Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (aka Mother Teresa), 8/27/1910 in Yugoslavia.

Quiz Answers

  1.  Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria
  2.  The most likely story is as a youth Louis would dance for pennies in the streets of his home city of New Orleans.  To prevent other boys from stealing the pennies he stored them in his mouth, which would then become so stuffed as to resemble a satchel.  Someone dubbed him “satchel mouth,” which became shortened to “Satchmo.”  Many of his friends called him “pops.”
  3.  Peter O’Toole
  4.  William Henry Harrison
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