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0079 The still active Mount Vesuvius volcano erupts for the first time in known history, destroying southern Italy's cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum and other, smaller settlements. Vesuvius explodes without warning at about noon, covering Pompeii in a layer of ash nearly 13 feet deep. The other two cities are buried under mud and volcanic debris. Archaeologists have determined what life was like in Roman times from the volcanic-ash-preserved remains of the cities.
0410 Alaric and his Visigoth army sack Rome for a second day, disillusioning Christians who are trusting in God's protection of this ecclesiastical center of early Christianity. St. Augustine later tackles this religious problem in his monumental work, City of God.
1516 Ottoman Sultan Selim I defeats the Mameluke army near Aleppo, securing Syria for the empire.
1542 Gonzalo Pizarro returns to the mouth of South America's Amazon River after having sailed it's length as far as the Andes Mountains.
1572 The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre: On the orders of Catholic Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, the top 20 prominent French Protestants in Paris are murdered, along with thousands of ordinary citizens. Admiral Coligny, the most prominent Protestant, or Huguenot, is the first to be butchered. Armed Catholic militia enter his bedroom to find him in prayer. They stab him repeatedly, then throw him out of the window while still alive. The fall kills him but his indignities are not ended. His head is severed, and the crowds are given his body to tear to pieces. His hands and genitals are offered for sale; the remainder of his corpse as strung up for the mob to see.
1662 The Act of Uniformity requires the English to accept the book of Common Prayer.
1680 Death: Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671. Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing the king, Charles II, who pardoned him.
1724 Birth: George Stubbs, Liverpool-born self-taught painter, reckoned by many to be the greatest of all horse painters.
1751 Thomas Colley is executed in England for drowning a supposed witch.
1759 Birth: William Wilberforce, in Hull, England, the son of a wealthy merchant, will crusade against slavery. Died on 29 July 1833.
1780 King Louis XVI abolishes torture as a means to get suspects to confess.
1787 Birth: James Weddell, in Ostend, Antarctic explorer (The Weddell Sea is named after him). Died 9 September 1834.
1810 Birth: Theodore Parker, antislavery movement leader.
1814 War of 1812: British forces under General Robert Ross overwhelm American militiamen at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, and march unopposed into Washington DC.
Most congressmen and officials flee the nation's capital as soon as word comes of the American defeat, but President James Madison and his wife, Dolley (above), who have stayed until the last minute saving priceless American treasures and documents, escape just before the invaders arrive.
Earlier in the day, President Madison had been present at the Battle of Bladensburg and had at one point actually taken command of one of the few remaining American batteries, thus becoming the first and only president to exercise in actual battle his authority as commander in chief. The British army enters Washington in the late afternoon, and General Ross and British officers dine that night at the deserted White House. Meanwhile, the British troops, ecstatic that they have captured their enemy's capital, begin setting the city aflame in revenge for the burning of Canadian government buildings by US troops earlier in the war. The White House, a number of federal buildings, and several private homes are destroyed. The still uncompleted Capitol building is also set on fire, and the House of Representatives and the Library of Congress are gutted before a torrential downpour douses the flames. On 26 August, General Ross, realizing his untenable hold on the capital area, orders a withdrawal from Washington. The next day, President Madison returns to a smoking and charred Washington and vows to rebuild the city. James Hoban, the original architect of the White House, completes reconstruction of the executive mansion in 1817. 1816 Sir Daniel Gooch lays the first successful transatlantic cables.
1853 The first potato chips (crisps) are prepared by Chef George Crum, in Saratoga Springs, New York.
1855 Abraham Lincoln denounces anti-Catholicism and the Know-Nothing Party for its prejudice against "Negroes, foreigners and Catholics"
1869 Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York, patents the waffle iron.
1872 Birth: Sir Max Beerbohm, in England, caricaturist, writer, wit (Saturday Review).
1886 Birth: William Francis Gibbs, naval architect, designed Liberty ships.
1891 Edison applies for a movie camera patent, but the most important element in making a movie, the film, is not patented until six years later.
1893 Fire in the south of Chicago leaves 5,000 people homeless.
1894 The US Congress passes the first graduated income tax law, which is declared unconstitutional the next year.
1902 Birth: Fernand Braudel, French historian (Civilization & Capitalism).
1909 Workers begin pouring the concrete for the Panama Canal.
1912 The US Post Office abolishes its rule that only parcels up to four pounds can be sent through the system.
1912 By an act of US Congress, Alaska is given a territorial legislature of two houses.
1912 A New York City ticker tape parade is held for Jim Thorpe and the victorious US Olympians.
1912 The US passes an Anti-gagging law, giving federal employees the right to petition the government.
1914 WW1: After four days of furious fighting, the devastated French fall back in the Ardennes and reorganize west of the Meuse.
1914 WW1: Main German armies enter France.
1914 WW1: Samsonov's troops encounters the Germans near Frankenau and severe fighting rages the entire day between Frankenau and Tannenberg.
1916 WW1: Eight people are killed when Zeppelins raid the outskirts of London.
1921 The Battle of the Sakarya River begins between Greece and Turkey. After three weeks of fighting the Turks are victorious.
1922 Arab states meeting at Nablus rejects the British mandate for Palestine given by the League of Nations.
1929 Birth: Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Movement.
1931 The Labour government in London resigns because of the gathering financial crisis.
1932 Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the US nonstop.
1933 Nazis prohibit the German-Jewish Maccabee team from participating in the World Maccabee games.
1936 Two-year mandatory military service becomes compulsory in Germany.
1936 Lev Kamenev is executed after being found guilty of treason in the first Stalinist "show trial" of the Great Purge.
1936 The Australian Antarctic Territory is created.
1939 Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter, the leader of Murder Incorporated, gives himself up to columnist Walter Winchell in New York City. Winchell turns the underworld leader over to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
1939 -08: Poland and Great Britain formally sign a treaty of mutual assistance.
1939 -08: The British Parliament reconvenes and passes the Emergency Powers Act. Royal Assent is given on the same day and the Royal Navy is ordered to war stations. Soon afterward a general mobilization begins.
1939 -08: Hitler predicts the Chamberlain government will fall.
1939 -08: Birger Dahlerus (above), a Swedish businessman and amateur statesman sanctioned by no government, meets with Goering, who proposes that Dahlerus should act as a go-between with Great Britain.
1939 -08: President Roosevelt appeals for settlement of the Danzig crisis by mediation.
1939 -08: Nazi Gauleiter Albert Foerster becomes head of state in Danzig.
1939 -08: Pope Pius XII appeals for peace.
1940 WW2: August 24-29 British bombing raids on the civilian population of Berlin cause negligible damage and slight loss of life in the German capital, but the loss of face greatly angers and embarrasses Hitler. (Duffy;Grolier)
1940 WW2: The Luftwaffe begins attacking further inland, seeking to destroy RAF bases and production centers.
1941 Holocaust: In a broadcast to the British people, Churchill, referring to the mass murders committed by the Germans, states: "We are in the presence of a crime without a name."
1942 WW2: In the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the third carrier-versus-carrier battle of the war, US naval forces defeat a Japanese force attempting to screen reinforcements for the Guadalcanal fighting. This Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal spells the difference between victory and defeat for the United States in the Pacific war.
1943 WW2: Poles in London propose a "massive liberation of prisoners from Auschwitz" but fail to persuade the Allies to bomb Auschwitz during raids on German factories in Silesia.
1944 WW2: Horia Sima (now in Germany) begins the formation of a Romanian National Army composed of all Romanian volunteers then in Germany and those who could escape and join them
1946 Canada categorically refuses to accept Polish ex-servicemen who had survived Nazi concentration camps or forced-labor camps. Later this policy will be softened.
1949 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) goes into effect. The agreement is that an attack against on one of the parties would be considered 'an attack against them all.'
1950 In Operation Magic Carpet, 45,000 Yemenite Jews move to Israel.
1953 The British colonial government of Kenya broadcasts a call to Mau Mau nationalist guerrilla fighters to surrender.
1954 Getulio Vargas, president of Brazil from 1930-45 and 1951-54, commits suicide.
1954 The Communist Party is virtually outlawed in the US when the Communist Control Act goes into effect.
1959 Three days after Hawaiian statehood, Hiram L. Fong is sworn in as the first Chinese-American US senator while Daniel K. Inouye is sworn in as the first Japanese-American US representative.
1961 Former nazi leader Johannes Vorster becomes South Africa's Minister of Justice.
1966 Luna 11 is launched by the USSR as a Lunar Orbiter from Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR. It enters lunar orbit on 28 August 1966. A total of 137 radio transmissions and 277 orbits of the Moon are completed before the batteries fail on 1 October 1966.
1968 France becomes the 5th thermonuclear power when they explode a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific. Question: The first four?
1975 Death sentences on former Greek prime minister Georgios Papadopoulos and two other leaders of the 1967 coup are commuted to life imprisonment.
1985 Antiapartheid leaders are arrested in South Africa as racial violence rocks the country.
1989 Voyager 2 continues it's flyby of Neptune and it's rings and moons, such as Titan (above).
1990 Iraqi troops surround foreign missions in Kuwait.
1989 Poland appoints as prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, becoming the first country in the Soviet Bloc to appoint a noncommunist prime minister since the late 1940's.
1990 Irish hostage Brian Keenan is freed by his Islamic Dawn Organization captors in west Beirut after 52 months in captivity.
1991 The Ukraine parliament declares independence from Moscow, subject to confirmation by a referendum in December.
1991 Gorbachev resigns as head of the Communist Party and Yeltsin disbands the Party.
1992 China and South Korea establish diplomatic relations.
1995 Harry Wu, human rights activist, is expelled by China after he is convicted of spying.
1998 US officials cite a soil sample as part of the evidence that a Sudan plant is producing precursors to the VX nerve gas and, therefore make it a target for US missiles.
1998 A donation of 24 beads is made, from three parties, to the Indian Museum of North America at the Crazy Horse Memorial. The beads are said to be those that were used in 1626 to buy Manhattan from the Indians.
2001 The remains of nine American servicemen killed in the Korean War are returned to the US The bodies are found about 60 miles north of Pyongyang. It is estimated that it will be a year before the identifies of the soldiers would be known.
2001 US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is randomly picked to take over the Microsoft monopoly case. The judge is to decide how Microsoft should be punished for illegally trying to squelch its competitors.
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