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August 25, 1916: The National Park Service was created when President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
August 26, 1789: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France. The fundamental document of the French Revolution defined the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid at all times and in every place, pertaining to human nature itself.
August 27, 410 CE: The Sack of Rome which had begun on August 24, 410, came to an end. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. This was the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to an enemy. The previous sack of Rome had been accomplished by the Gauls under their leader Brennus in 387 BCE. The sacking of 410 is seen as a major landmark in the fall of the Western Roman Empire. St. Jerome, living in Bethlehem at the time, wrote that "The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken."
August 28, 1565: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land near St. Augustine, Florida and founds the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in what would become the continental United States.The Spanish crown had approached Menéndez to fit out an expedition to Florida on the condition that he explore and colonize the region as King Philip's adelantado, and eliminate the Huguenot French settlers, whom the Catholic Spanish considered to be dangerous heretics. Menéndez was in a race to reach Florida before the French captain Jean Ribault, who was on a mission to secure Fort Caroline, near present day Jacksonville. The two fleets met in a brief skirmish off the coast, but it was not decisive. On 28 August 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, Menéndez's crew finally sighted land. They landed shortly after to found the settlement they named St. Augustine.
August 29, 1949: The Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, known as First Lightning or Joe 1, at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. The explosion yielded 22 kilotons of TNT, similar to the American Gadget and Fat Man bombs. In order to test the effects of the new weapon, workers constructed houses made of wood and bricks, along with a bridge, and a simulated metro in the vicinity of the test site. Armoured hardware and approximately 50 aircraft were also brought to the testing grounds, as well as over 1,500 animals to test the bomb's effects on life. The resulting data showed the explosion to be 50% more destructive than originally estimated by its engineers.
August 30, 1967: Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Before becoming a judge, Marshall was a lawyer who was best known for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education, a decision that desegregated public schools. He served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy and then served as the Solicitor General after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.
August 31, 1876: The Ottoman Sultan Murat V was deposed and succeeded by his brother Abd-ul-Hamid II, who would be the last Sultan to exert effective control over the Ottoman Empire. Abd-ul-Hamidd II oversaw a period of decline in the power and extent of the Empire, until he was deposed on 27 April 1909. During his tenure, he was responsible for both modernization of the Ottoman Empire, as well as exerting maximum control over its affairs. Changes included: rationalization of the bureaucracy; the ambitious Hijaz Railway project; the creation of a modern system of personnel records (1896); establishment of an elaborate system for population registration and control over the press; systematization of officials salaries (1880); first modern law school (1898).
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July 28, 1932: President Herbert Hoover orders the United States Army to forcibly evict the "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans gathered in Washington, D.C. The veterans had assembled to demand cash-payment redemption of their service certificates promised with the passage of the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924. Although not redeemable until 1945, each service certificate issued to a qualified veteran soldier, bore a face value equal to the soldier's promised payment plus compound interest. The principal demand of the Bonus Army was the immediate cash payment of their certificates.
July 29, 1907: Sir Robert Baden-Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour on the south coast of England. The camp ran from August 1 to August 9, 1907, and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.
July 30, 1619: In Jamestown, Virginia, the first representative assembly in the Americas, the House of Burgesses, convened for the first time. The House was established by the Virginia Company, who created the body as part of an effort to encourage English craftsmen to settle in North America and to make conditions in the colony more agreeable for its current inhabitants. The House's first session accomplished little, as it was cut short by an outbreak of malaria.
July 31, 1703: Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet entitled The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church. In it he ruthlessly satirized both the High church Tories and those Dissenters who hypocritically practiced so-called "occasional conformity." Though it was published anonymously, the true authorship was quickly discovered and Defoe was arrested and charged with seditious libel. Defoe was found guilty. He was fined, sentenced to public humiliation in a pillory, and to an indeterminate length of imprisonment which would only end upon the discharge of the punitive fine. According to legend, the publication of his poem Hymn to the Pillory caused his audience at the pillory to throw flowers instead of the customary harmful and noxious objects and to drink to his health.
August 1, 1960: Dahomey declared independence from France under the presidency of Hubert Maga. For the next twelve years, ethnic strife contributed to a period of turbulence, as there were several coups and regime changes. On October 26, 1972, Lt. Col. Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the ruling triumvirate to become president and stated that the country would not "burden itself by copying foreign ideology, and wants neither Capitalism, Communism, nor Socialism". Later he announced that the country was officially Marxist, nationalized the petroleum industry and banks, and renamed the country to the People's Republic of Benin.
August 2, 1923: Warren G, Harding died unexpectedly in San Francisco, California, and Vice President, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the 30th President of the United States. Doctors issued a release stating that the cause of Harding’s death was "some brain evolvement, probably an apoplexy." Mrs. Harding refused to allow an autopsy. In retrospect, scholars speculate that Harding had shown physical signs of cardiac insufficiency with congestive heart failure in the preceding weeks. Naval medical consultants who examined the president in San Francisco concluded he had suffered a heart attack. Dr. Wilbur included in his memoirs a letter from Dr. Charles Miner Cooper in support of their cerebral apoplexy diagnosis, based on Harding's last observed condition, while acknowledging that no final determination could be made.
August 3, 1678: Robert LaSalle completed construction of the Le Griffon, the first known ship built on the Great Lakes. The explorer sought a Northwest Passage to China and Japan in order to extend France's trade. Creating a fur trade monopoly with the Native Americans would finance his quest and building Le Griffon was an "essential link in the scheme."
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July 21, 1865: The Hickok – Tutt shootout occurred in the town square of Springfield, Missouri between Wild Bill Hickok, and cowboy, Davis Tutt. The first story of the shootout was detailed in an article in Harper's Magazine in 1867, making Hickok a household name and folk hero.
July 22, 1793: The Scottish explorer, Alexander Mackenzie, reached the Pacific Ocean becoming the first European to complete a transcontinental crossing of Canada. This was the first east to west crossing of North America north of Mexico and predated the Lewis and Clark expedition by 10 years.
July 23, 1914: Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia demanding that Serbia to allow the Austrians to investigate the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbia would reject the demand and Austria declared war on July 28.
July 24, 1983: George Brett batting for the Kansas City Royals against the New York Yankees, had a game-winning home run nullified in the what would become known as the "Pine Tar Incident." Yankees manager Billy Martin, had noticed a large amount of pine tar on Brett's bat and requested that the umpires inspect his bat. The umpires ruled that the amount of pine tar on the bat exceeded the amount allowed by rule, nullified Brett's home run, and called him out. As Brett was the third out in the ninth inning with the home team in the lead, the game ended with a Yankees win.
July 25, 1894: The First Sino-Japanese War began when the Battle of Pungdo took place offshore of Asan, Chungcheongnam-do Korea between cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy of Meiji Japan and components of the Beiyang Fleet of the Empire of China. The war was fought over the issue of control of Korea, and ended when China sued for peace in February 1895.
July 26, 1948: President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 desegregating the military of the United States. The order also established a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the civilian leadership of the military to implement the policy. The order eliminated Montford Point as a segregated Marine boot camp. It became a satellite facility of Camp Lejeune. The last of the all-black units in the United States military would not finally be abolished until September 1954.
July 27, 1794: Maximilien Robespierre was arrested after encouraging the execution of more than 17,000 "enemies of the Revolution." His goal had been to use the guillotine to create what he called a "republic of virtue." Robespierre argued, "Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; it is less a principle in itself, than a consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing needs of the patrie." Terror was thus a tool to accomplish his overarching goals for democracy.
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July 7, 1928: The Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri, began the first commercial use of bread slicing machine machine developed by Otto Frederick Rohwedder, as it marketed its "Kleen Maid Sliced Bread." The bread was advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped."
July 8, 1497: Vasco da Gama set sail on the first direct European voyage to India.Th expedition paved the way for the Portuguese to establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia. The route meant that the Portuguese would no longer need to cross the highly disputed Mediterranean nor the dangerous Arabia Peninsula, as the whole voyage could be made by sea.
July 9, 1896: William Jennings Bryan delivered his Cross of Gold speech advocating bimetallism at the 1896 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Bryan's address helped catapult him to the Democratic Party's presidential nomination; it is considered one of the greatest political speeches in American history.
July 10, 1925: In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called "Monkey Trial" begins with John T. Scopes, a young high school science teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.
July 11, 1801: French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons made his first comet discovery. Over the course of the next twenty-seven years, he would discover another thirty-seven comets, more than any other person in history.
July 12, 927: Æthelstan, King of England, secured a pledge from Constantine II of Scotland that the latter would not ally with Viking kings, beginning the process of unifying Great Britain. This is considered the closest thing that England has to a foundation date.
July 13, 1985: The Live Aid benefit concert takes place in London, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sydney, and Moscow. The event was organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine. An estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live broadcast.