Today in History


Today in History

Today is Sunday, Aug. 21, the 234th day of 2016. There are 132 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Aug. 21, 1831, Nat Turner launched a violent slave rebellion in Virginia resulting in the deaths of at least 55 whites. (Turner was later executed.)

On this date:

In 1858, the first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place.

In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. (The painting was recovered two years later in Italy.)

In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in a Mexican hospital from wounds inflicted by an assassin the day before.

In 1944, the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China opened talks at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington that helped pave the way for establishment of the United Nations. (The talks concluded on Oct. 7.)

In 1945, President Harry S. Truman ended the Lend-Lease program that had shipped some $50 billion in aid supplies to America’s allies during World War II.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order making Hawaii the 50th state.

In 1963, martial law was declared in South Vietnam as police and army troops began a violent crackdown on Buddhist anti-government protesters.

In 1972, the Republican National Convention opened in Miami Beach.

In 1983, Philippine opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., ending a self-imposed exile in the United States, was shot dead moments after stepping off a plane at Manila International Airport. The musical play “La Cage Aux Folles” opened on Broadway.

In 1986, more than 1,700 people died when toxic gas erupted from a volcanic lake in the West African nation of Cameroon.

In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.

In 1993, in a serious setback for NASA, engineers lost contact with the Mars Observer spacecraft as it was about to reach the red planet on a $980 million mission.

Ten years ago: A defiant Saddam Hussein refused to enter a plea on genocide charges and dismissed the court as illegitimate at the start of his second trial, this one concerning the widescale killings of tens of thousands of Kurds in 1987-88. British prosecutors announced that 11 people had been charged in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners bound for the U.S. (Nine British Muslims were later convicted in connection with the plot.) A train crash on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, killed at least 58 people. A bomb blast tore through a Moscow market, killing at least 14 people.

Five years ago: Euphoric Libyan rebels raced into Tripoli and took control of the center with little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi’s defenses collapsed and his four-decade regime appeared to be crumbling. In a statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he was vacationing with his family, President Barack Obama called on Gadhafi to acknowledge reality and step down.

One year ago: A trio of Americans, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler, and a British businessman, Chris Norman, tackled and disarmed a Moroccan gunman on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris. First Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas, and Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, became the first female soldiers to complete the Army’s rigorous Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Mike Fiers pitched the second no-hitter in the major leagues in nine days, leading the Houston Astros to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Today’s Birthdays: Former NFL player and general manager Pete Retzlaff is 85. Actor-director Melvin Van Peebles is 84. Playwright Mart Crowley is 81. Singer Kenny Rogers is 78. Actor Clarence Williams III is 77. Rock-and-roll musician James Burton is 77. Singer Harold Reid (The Statler Brothers) is 77. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 75. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Lanier is 71. Actress Patty McCormack is 71. Pop singer-musician Carl Giammarese (jee-ah mah-REE’-see) is 69. Actress Loretta Devine is 67. NBC newsman Harry Smith is 65. Singer Glenn Hughes is 64. Country musician Nick Kane is 62. Actress Kim Cattrall is 60. College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is 57. Actress Cleo King is 54. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher John Wetteland is 50. Rock singer Serj Tankian (TAN’-kee-ahn) (System of a Down) is 49. Figure skater Josee Chouinard is 47. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 46. MLB player-turned-manager Craig Counsell is 46. Rock musician Liam Howlett (Prodigy) is 45. Actress Alicia Witt is 41. Singer Kelis (kuh-LEES’) is 37. Actor Diego Klattenhoff is 37. TV personality Brody Jenner is 33. Singer Melissa Schuman is 32. Olympic gold medal sprinter Usain (yoo-SAYN’) Bolt is 30. Actor Carlos Pratts is 30. Actor-comedian Brooks Wheelan is 30. Actor Cody Kasch is 29. Country singer Kacey Musgraves is 28. Actress Hayden Panettiere (pan’-uh-tee-EHR’) is 27. Actor RJ Mitte is 24. Actor Maxim Knight is 17.

Thought for Today: “Paradoxical as it may seem, to believe in youth is to look backward; to look forward we must believe in age.” — Dorothy L. Sayers, English author (1893-1957).

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