HISTORY OF BLACK AUGUST
“Black August originated in the concentration camps of California to honor fallen Freedom Fighters, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden. Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to liberate three imprisoned Black Liberation Fighters: James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee.
Ruchell Magee is the sole survivor of that armed rebellion. He is the former co-defendant of Angela Davis and has been locked down for 40 years, most of it in solitary confinement. George Jackson was assassinated by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. Three prison guards were also killed during that rebellion and prison officials charged six Black and Latino prisoners with the death of those guards.
These six brothers became known as the San Quentin Six. To honor these fallen soldiers the brothers who participated in the collective founding of Black August wore black armbands on their left arm and studied revolutionary works, focusing on the works of George Jackson.” (mxgm.org)
HISTORICAL REVOLUTIONARY ACTIONS OF SOLIDARITY
” … the courage of black prisoners has elicited a response from white America. The small band of white revolutionaries has taken a positive stand. The Weathermen decried Jackson’s murder by placing a few bombs in given places and the Communist Party supported the demand by the black prisoners and the Black Panther Party that the murder was to be investigated. On a more general note, white liberal America has been disturbed. The white liberals never like to be told that white capitalist society is too rotten to be reformed. Even the established capitalist press has come out with exposes of prison conditions, and the fascist massacres of black prisoners at Attica prison recently brought Senator Muskie out with a cry of enough.” – Walter Rodney, 1971
*The arrival of the first enslaved Afrikans to Jamestown, Virginia in August 1619;
*The start of the great Haitian revolution in August 1791;
*The call for a general strike by enslaved New Afrikans by Henry Highland Garnett on August 22nd1843;
*The initiation of the major network that conducted the Underground Railroad on August 2, 1850;
*Gabriel Prosser’s rebellion of August 30th, 1800.
*The rebellion of Nat “the Prophet” Turner on August 21st, 1831;
*On August 3, 1908, the Allensworth Township for former slaves was established in California;
*The March on Washington occurred in August of 1963;
*The Watts rebellion of August 1965;
*The defense of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PG – RNA) from a FBI assault in Mississippi on August 18, 1971;
*The attack of the MOVE family by Philadelphia police on August 8, 1978.
Black August is also a commemorative month of birth and transition. Dr. Mutulu Shakur (New Afrikan prisoner of war), Pan-Africanist Leader Marcus Garvey, Maroon Russell Shoatz (political prisoner) and Chicago Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton were born in August. The great New Afrikan revolutionary scholar and theoretician W.E.B. Dubois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963. Khatari Gant the son of Original Black August Organizing Committee Members Mama Ayanna and Shaka At-Thinnin was murdered on August 4, 2007.
The following dates come from: http://www.historyplace.com/specials/calendar/august.htm
August 1, 1838 – Slavery was abolished in Jamaica. It had been introduced by Spanish settlers 300 years earlier in 1509.
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 1, 1944 – The Warsaw Uprising began as the Polish Home Army, numbering about 40,000 Polish patriots, began shooting at German troops in the streets. The Nazis then sent eight divisions to battle the Poles, who had hoped for, but did not receive, assistance from the Allies. Two months later, the rebellion was quashed.
Birthday – Star-Spangled Banner author Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) was born in Frederick County, Maryland. After witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry on the night of September 13-14, 1814, he was enthralled to see the American flag still flying over the fort at daybreak. He then wrote the poem originally entitled Defense of Fort McHenry which became the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.
Birthday – Moby Dick author Herman Melville (1819-1891) was born in New York.
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 2, 1990 – The Iraqi army invaded Kuwait amid claims that Kuwait threatened Iraq’s economic existence by overproducing oil and driving prices down on the world market. An Iraqi military government was then installed in Kuwait which was annexed by Iraq on the claim that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq. This resulted in Desert Shield, the massive Allied military buildup, and later the 100-hour war against Iraq, Desert Storm.
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.
Birthday – War correspondent Ernie Pyle (1900-1945) was born in Dana, Indiana. His syndicated column offered sympathetic insights into the experiences of common soldiers during World War II. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his reports of the bombing of London in 1940 and later war reports from Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. He was killed by machine-gun fire near Okinawa in the South Pacific on April 18, 1945.
Birthday – Gray Panthers founder Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995) was born in Buffalo, New York. After she was forced into mandatory retirement at age 65, she founded the Gray Panthers organization to fight age discrimination and succeeded in the banning of mandatory retirement in most professions.
August 4, 1962 – Apartheid opponent Nelson Mandela was arrested by security police in South Africa. He was then tried and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1964, he was placed on trial for sabotage, high treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government and was sentenced to life in prison. A worldwide campaign to free him began in the 1980s and resulted in his release on February 11, 1990, at age 71 after 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa’s President F.W. de Klerk for their peaceful efforts to bring a nonracial democracy to South Africa. In April 1994, black South Africans voted for the first time in an election that brought Mandela the presidency of South Africa.
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 – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (1912-1947) was born in Stockholm. During the Holocaust, Wallenberg saved an estimated 33,000 Jews by issuing thousands of protective documents, by securing the release of Jews from deportation trains, death march convoys, labor service brigades, and by establishing the International Ghetto, a network of 31 protected houses. He was detained by Soviet agents on January 17, 1945, and is believed to have died in prison in 1947.
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 Return to Top of Page
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 ineffective political leadership regarding debt reduction.
Birthday – John Eliot (1604-1690) was born in Hertfordshire, England. Known as the “Apostle to the Indians,” his translation of the Bible into an Indian tongue was the first Bible to be printed in America.
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, 1962 – Jamaica achieved independence after centuries of British and Spanish rule. During 150 years of Spanish rule, African slaves were first brought to the island. The British invaded in 1655 and the slave trade greatly expanded during the 1700s. Following the abolition of slavery in the 1830s, Jamaica remained a British colony.
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 – British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England. He was appointed Poet Laureate in succession to William Wordsworth. Memorable poems by Tennyson include Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and The Charge of the Light Brigade.
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.
Birthday – International spy Mata Hari (1876-1917) was born (as Margaret Gertrude Zelle) in Leewarden, Netherlands. Arrested by the French in 1917 as a German spy, she was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. At her execution, she refused a blindfold and instead threw a kiss to the French firing squad.
Birthday – African American statesman and Nobel Prize recipient Ralph J. Bunche (1904-1971) was born in Detroit, Michigan. In 1949, as a mediator for the United Nations, he helped bring an end to hostilities in the war between Israel and the Arab League.
August 8, 1945 – Soviet Russia declared war on Japan and sent troops into Japanese-held Manchuria.
Birthday – African American explorer Matthew Henson (1866-1955) was born in Charles County, Maryland. He accompanied Robert E. Peary on several Arctic expeditions and reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909.
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 10 Return to Top of Page
Birthday – Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) the 31st U.S. President was born in West Branch, Iowa. He was the first President born west of the Mississippi.
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.
Birthday – Roots author Alex Haley (1921-1992) was born in Ithaca, New York. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1976, explored seven generations of his family from its origins in Africa through slavery in America and eventual hard-fought freedom. Roots was translated into 37 languages and also became an eight-part TV miniseries in 1977 which attracted a record American audience and raised awareness concerning the legacy of slavery.
August 12, 1676 – King Philip’s War ended with the assassination of Metacom, leader of the Pokanokets, a tribe within the Wampanoag Indian Federation. Nicknamed ‘King Philip’ by colonists, he led a Native American uprising against white settlers which resulted in a war that raged for nearly two years, now known as King Philip’s War.
Birthday – Film pioneer Cecil B. DeMille (1881-1959) was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts. He produced over 70 major films including Cleopatra, The Ten Commandments, and The Greatest Show on Earth.
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 and Reagan 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 – Women’s rights pioneer Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was born near West Brookfield, Massachusetts. She dedicated her life to the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women and aided in the founding of the American Suffrage Association.
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.
Birthday – Cuban President Fidel Castro was born in Mayari, Oriente Province, Cuba, August 13, 1927. He led a rebellion in 1959 that drove out Dictator Fulgencio Batista, and remains one of the last outspoken advocates of Communism.
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 Return to Top of Page
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.
Birthday – French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was born on the island of Corsica. Originally an officer in King Louis’ Army, he rose to become Emperor amid the political chaos that followed the French Revolution. He built a half-million strong Grand Army which utilized newly invented modern tactics and improvisation in battle to sweep across Europe and acquire an empire for France. However, after defeats in Russia and later by the British, he went into exile on the island of St. Helena off the coast of Africa. On May 5, 1821, he died alone on the tiny island abandoned by everyone.
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.
Birthday – T.E. Lawrence ‘of Arabia’ (1888-1935) was born in Tremadoc, North Wales. He led an Arab revolt against the Turks during World War I and served as a spy for the British. He was killed in a motorcycle accident at Dorset, England, on May 19, 1935.
Birthday – Israeli leader Menachem Begin (1913-1992) was born in Brest-Litovsk, Poland. He fought for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine in the 1940’s, serving as the leader of a militant Zionist group. In 1977, he became Prime Minister of Israel, and is best known for signing the 1979 Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar el Sadat of Egypt.
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 19, 1934 – In Germany, a plebiscite was held in which 89.9 percent of German voters approved granting Chancellor Adolf Hitler additional powers, including the office of president.
August 19, 1991 – Soviet hard-line Communists staged a coup, temporarily removing Mikhail Gorbachev from power. The coup failed within 72 hours as democratic reformer Boris Yeltsin rallied the Russian people. Yeltsin then became the leading power in the country. The Communist Party was soon banned and by December the Soviet Union itself disintegrated.
Birthday – Aviation pioneer Orville Wright (1871-1948) was born in Dayton, Ohio. In 1903, Orville and his brother Wilbur achieved the world’s first successful sustained and controlled flight of a motor-driven aircraft, following years of experimentation with kites and gliders.
Birthday – Bill Clinton, the 42nd U.S. President was born in Hope, Arkansas, August 19, 1946. He was the first President elected who was not alive during World War II.
August 20 Return to Top of Page
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.
Birthday – French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, France. His unusual chords, based on the whole-tone scale, laid the groundwork for a new style of music called impressionism.
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, 1572 – Thousands of Protestant Huguenots were massacred in Paris and throughout France by Catholics, in what became known as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
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 Return to Top of Page
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.
Birthday – American inventor Lee De Forest (1873-1961) was born at Council Bluffs, Iowa. He held hundreds of patents for inventions and was also a pioneer in the creation of wireless radio broadcasting and television.
Birthday – Charles Dawes (1865-1951) was born in Marietta, Ohio. He served as U.S. Vice President from 1925-29, and is best remembered for his “Dawes Plan” for German reparations following World War I. He received the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize.
Birthday – Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) the 36th U.S. President was born near Stonewall, Texas. He ascended to the presidency upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Johnson served until January 20, 1969.
Birthday – Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was born (as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) in Skopje, Yugoslavia. She founded a religious order of nuns in Calcutta, India, called the Missionaries of Charity and spent her life working to help the poor and sick of India.
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 speech.
Birthday – German author-philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He is best known for the dramatic poem Faust, completed in 1831.
Birthday – The first American-born Roman Catholic saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) was born (as Elizabeth Ann Bayley) in New York. She founded the first American Catholic religious order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. In 1809, she opened an elementary school in Baltimore, marking the beginning of the parochial school system in the U.S.
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.
Birthday – Physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He once wrote, “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” His poem Old Ironsides aroused popular sentiment in the 1830’s which helped to save the historic frigate USS Constitution from destruction.
Birthday – British philosopher and pioneer in modern political thinking, John Locke (1632-1704) was born in Wrington, England. His ideas greatly influenced American colonists, namely that rulers derive their power only from the consent of the governed – and the doctrine that men naturally possess certain rights, the chief being life, liberty, and property.
Birthday – Frankenstein author Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was born in London.
Birthday – Civil rights leader Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The grandson of a Mississippi slave, he was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
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, 1980 – Solidarity, the Polish trade union, was formed at Gdansk, Poland. Led by Lech Walesa, Solidarity opposed Communist rule and was outlawed in 1981. Seven years later, the re-legalization of Solidarity occurred and the government agreed to hold partially free parliamentary elections. Solidarity candidates scored stunning victories in the elections that followed, gaining power in Poland and paving the way for the downfall of Communism there.
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.
(Photo and picture credits: Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives)