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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 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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August 4, 1964: U.S.Naval destroyers USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy reported coming under attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. This came on the heels of an August 2nd attack by three North Vietnamese Navy P-4 torpedo boats. This second attack has come to be questioned as probably involving false radar images and not actual NVN vessels. Nevertheless, the two incidents would precipitate the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, the use of "conventional'' military force in Southeast Asia.
August 5, 1305: William Wallace, who led the Scottish resistance against England, was captured by the English near Glasgow and transported to London where he would be placed on trial and ultimately executed. Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, and was Guardian of Scotland, serving until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298.
August 6, 1945: Hiroshima, Japan was devastated when the atomic bomb "Little Boy" was dropped by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Around 70,000 people were killed instantly, and some tens of thousands died in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning.
August 7, 1819: Simón Bolívar triumphed over Spain in the Battle of Boyacá. The battle was fought in Colombia, then known as New Granada, and is credited as the battle in which Colombia acquired its definitive independence from Spanish Monarchy, although fighting with royalist forces would continue for years.
Brigadier Generals Francisco de Paula Santander and José Antonio Anzoátegui led a combined republican army of Colombians and Venezuelans, complemented by the British Legion, to defeat in two hours a Royalist Colombian-Venezuelan force. Simón Bolívar credited the victory to the British Legion declaring that "those soldier liberators are the men who deserve these laurels" when offered laurels after the victory.
August 8, 1942: the Quit India Movement was launched in India against the British rule in response to Mohandas Gandhi's call for swaraj or complete independence. The British refused to grant immediate independence, saying it could happen only after the war ended. Sporadic small-scale violence took place around the country but the British arrested tens of thousands of leaders, keeping them imprisoned until 1945, and suppressed civil rights, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. In terms of immediate objectives Quit India failed because of heavy-handed suppression, weak coordination and the lack of a clear-cut program of action. However, the British government did come to the realization that India was ungovernable in the long run and actively began to seek an exit strategy.
August 9, 1854: Henry David Thoreau published Walden. The book details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. The book compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development. By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau's other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period.
August 10, 1519: Ferdinand Magellan's five ships set sail from Seville to circumnavigate the globe. The Basque second in command Juan Sebastián Elcano would complete the expedition after Magellan's death in the Philippines.