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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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August 18, 1920: The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, prohibiting any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. The Constitution allows the states to determine the qualifications for voting, and until the 1910s most states disenfranchised women. The amendment was the culmination of the women's suffrage movement in the United States, which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote. The Nineteenth Amendment's ratification effectively overturned Minor v. Happersett, in which a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not give women the right to vote.
August 19, 1612: The "Samlesbury witches", three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury, England, were put on trial, accused of practicing witchcraft, one of the most famous witch trials in British history. The charges against the women included child murder and cannibalism. The case against the three women collapsed "spectacularly" when the chief prosecution witness, Grace Sowerbutts, was exposed by the trial judge to be "the perjuring tool of a Catholic priest." The trial of the Samlesbury witches is one clear example of what has been described as "largely a piece of anti-Catholic propaganda," and even as a show-trial, to demonstrate that Lancashire, considered at that time to be a wild and lawless region, was being purged not only of witches but also of "popish plotters."
August 20, 1882: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuted in Moscow, Russia. The overture written in 1880 to commemorate Russia's defense of its motherland against Napoleon's invading Grande Armée in 1812. It has also become a common accompaniment to fireworks displays, including those which occur in the United States in association with its Fourth of July celebrations. The piece has no connection to the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain, but was personally conducted by Tchaikovsky in 1891 at the opening of Carnegie Hall in New York City.
August 21, 1831: Nat Turner led a deadly slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 60 white deaths and at least 100 black deaths. The rebellion was ultimately suppressed within two days, but Turner would elude capture until October 30. Upon his arrest, he was quickly tried and convicted for "conspiring to rebel and making insurrection." He was executed on November 11, 1831, in the town of Jerusalem, Virginia (now known as Courtland)
August 22, 1485: The Battle of Bosworth Field was fought in what would be was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York that raged across England in the latter half of the 15th century. The battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, by his victory became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty. His opponent, Richard III, the last king of the House of York, was killed in the battle. Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, making it a defining moment of English and Welsh history.
August 23, 1839: The United Kingdom captured Hong Kong as a base as it prepared for war with Qing China. The ensuing 3-year conflict will later be known as the First Opium War. Trade with China was heavily regulated and could only be conducted with silver, Growing demand in England for tea created significant trade deficits. However, in 1817, the British hit upon counter-trading in a narcotic drug, Indian opium, as a way to reduce the trade deficit. The Qing Administration originally tolerated opium importation, because it created an indirect tax on Chinese subjects, while allowing the British to double tea exports from China to England—which profited the monopoly for tea exports of the Qing imperial treasury and its agents. However, by 1820, China's accelerated opium consumption reversed the flow of silver, just when the Imperial Treasury needed to finance suppression of rebellions against the Qing. The Qing government began its efforts to end the opium trade, which would ultimately lead to conflict.
August 24, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Hardliners in the Soviet leadership, calling themselves the 'State Emergency Committee', launched the coup in 1991 in an attempt to remove Gorbachev from power. During this time, Gorbachev spent three days (19, 20 and 21 August) under house arrest at a dacha in the Crimea before being freed and restored to power. However, upon his return, Gorbachev found that neither union nor Russian power structures heeded his commands as support had swung over to Boris Yeltsin, whose defiance had led to the coup's collapse. For all intents and purposes, the coup was the end politically for Gorbachev. On August 24th, he advised the Central Committee to dissolve, resigned as General Secretary and disbanded all party units within the government. Shortly afterward, the Supreme Soviet suspended all Party activities on Soviet territory. In effect, Communist rule in the Soviet Union had ended—thus eliminating the only unifying force left in the country.
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August 11, 1942: Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil received a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi. The early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. However, the idea was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired. Consequently, the patent was little known until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr a belated award for her contributions.
August 12, 30 BCE: Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, committed suicide. Formerly involved with Julius Caesar, after Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite.
August 13, 1918: Opha May Johnson (2 Feb 1900 – Jan 1976) was the first woman to enlist officially in the United States Marine Corps,
when she joined the Marine Corps Reserve during World War I. Johnson was the first of 305 women to join up with the United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve that day.
August 14, 1952: Three-time Olympic champion, and a former world record-holder at three distances, Deborah Meyer was born in Annapolis, Maryland. Meyer won the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle swimming races in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. While she was still a 16-year old student at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California, she became the first swimmer to win three individual gold medals in one Olympics. Meyer is still the only woman Olympian to win three individual freestyle swimming gold medals in one Olympics, namely the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events. No swimmer has ever done this in any other combination of distances
August 15, 1970: Patricia Palinkas became the first woman to play professionally in an American football game. She was a placekick holder for her husband Steven Palinkas for the minor league Orlando Panthers in the Atlantic Coast Football League. On her first play, against the Bridgeport Jets, Palinkas was attacked by Jets defenseman Wally Florence, who admittedly attempted to "break her neck" as punishment for what he perceived to be "making folly with a man's game." Palinkas went on to appear four more times: three consecutive successful extra point kicks, and a field goal attempt that was blocked.
August 16, 1902: Georgette Heyer was born in Wimbledon, London. She was named after her father, George Heyer. Her mother, Sylvia Watkins, studied both cello and piano and was one of the top three students in her class at the Royal College of Music. Heyer became a prolific and commercially successful historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth. Heyer essentially invented the historical romance and created the sub-genre of the Regency romance. At the time of her death, in 1974, forty-eight of her books were still in print, including her first novel.
August 17, 1953: Herta Müller, a German-Romanian novelist, poet, essayist and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature. was born in Nițchidorf, Romania. Müller is noted for her works depicting the effects of violence, cruelty and terror, usually in the setting of Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceaușescu regime which she has experienced herself. Many of her works are told from the viewpoint of the German minority in Romania and are also a depiction of the modern history of the Germans in the Banat, and Transylvania. Her much acclaimed 2009 novel The Hunger Angel (Atemschaukel) portrays the deportation of Romania's German minority to Stalinist Soviet Gulags during the Soviet occupation of Romania for use as German forced labor. In 2009, the Swedish Academy awarded Müller the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing her as a woman "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed."
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July 14, 1881: Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner. Rumors persist that Billy the Kid was not killed that night, but that Garrett, a known friend of the Kid's, may have staged it all so the Kid could escape the law.
July 15, 1799: The Rosetta Stone was found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three different scripts (with some minor differences among them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
July 16, 1941: Joe DiMaggio hit safely for the 56th consecutive game, a streak that still stands as a Major League Baseball record. DiMaggio batted .408 during the streak, with 15 home runs and 55 RBI. The day after the streak ended, DiMaggio started another streak that lasted 17 games. The distinction of hitting safely in 73 of 74 games is also a record.
July 17, 1762: Catherine II became tsar of Russia upon the murder of Peter III of Russia. She was longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from July 1762 until her death at the age of sixty-seven. Russia was revitalized under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognized as one of the great powers of Europe.
July 18, 1976: Nadia Comăneci became the first person in Olympic Games history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics at the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal, Canada. Comăneci was the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. She also holds the record for being the youngest Olympic gymnastics all-around champion ever.
July 19, 1848: The two-day Women's Rights Convention opened in Seneca Falls, New York. Female Quakers local to the area organized the meeting along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a skeptical non-Quaker. The meeting had six sessions, included a lecture on law, a humorous presentation, and multiple discussions about the role of women in society.
July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 successfully maked the first manned landing on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility. Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon almost 7 hours later.
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June 23, 1865: Brigadier General Stand Watie of the Confederate Army signed a cease-fire agreement with Union representatives for his command, the First Indian Brigade of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi at Doaksville in the Choctaw Nation. He was the last Confederate general in the field to surrender.
June 24, 1314: The Battle of Bannockburn concluded with a decisive victory by Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce, though England did not recognize Scottish independence until 1328 with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton.
June 25, 1976: Missouri Governor Kit Bond issued an executive order rescinding the Extermination Order and formally apologized on behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it had caused to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the aftermath of the 1838 Mormon War.
June 26, 1918: Allied Forces under John J. Pershing and James Harbord defeated Imperial German Forces under Wilhelm, German Crown Prince at the Battle of Belleau Wood.
June 27, 1905: Sailors start a mutiny aboard the Russian Battleship Potemkin, denouncing the crimes of autocracy, demanding liberty and an end to war. The uprising later came to be viewed as an initial step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.
June 28, 1919: The Treaty of Versailles was signed in Paris, bringing fighting to an end in between Germany and the Allies of World War I. The other Central Powers were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty.
June 29, 1950: The United States defeated England, 1-0, during the 1950 FIFA World Cup at Independência Stadium, in the city of Belo Horizonte. Striker Joe Gaetjens was the goal scorer. The result is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports.