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August 15 – Ali defeats Spinks to win world heavyweight championship

On this day in 1978, boxer Muhammad Ali defeats Leon Spinks at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to win the world heavyweight boxing title for the third time in his career, the first fighter ever to do so. Following his victory, Ali retired from boxing, only to make a brief comeback two years later. Ali, who once claimed he could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” left the sport permanently in 1981.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 14, 1942, the future world champ changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after converting to Islam. He earned a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and made his professional boxing debut against Tunney Husaker in October 1960, winning the bout in six rounds. Continue reading “August 15 – Ali defeats Spinks to win world heavyweight championship”

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August 27 1883 – Krakatau explodes

The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into the air, created 120-foot tsunamis and killed 36,000 people.

Krakatau exhibited its first stirrings in more than 200 years on May 20, 1883. A German warship passing by reported a seven-mile high cloud of ash and dust over Krakatau. For the next two months, similar explosions would be witnessed by commercial liners and natives on nearby Java and Sumatra. With little to no idea of the impending catastrophe, the local inhabitants greeted the volcanic activity with festive excitement. Continue reading “August 27 1883 – Krakatau explodes”

August 22

1350 John II, also known as John the Good, succeeds Philip VI as king of France.
1485 Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at Bosworth. This victory establishes the Tudor dynasty in England and ends the War of the Roses.
1642 Civil war in England begins as Charles I declares war on Parliament at Nottingham.
1717 The Austrian army forces the Turkish army out of Belgrade, ending the Turkish revival in the Balkans.
1777 With the approach of General Benedict Arnold’s army, British Colonel Barry St. Ledger abandons Fort Stanwix and returns to Canada.
1849 The Portuguese governor of Macao, China, is assassinated because of his anti-Chinese policies.
1911 The Mona Lisa, the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is stolen from the Louvre in Paris, where it had hung for more than 100 years. It is recovered in 1913.
1922 Michael Collins, Irish politician, is killed in an ambush. Continue reading “August 22”

August 10

955 Otto organizes his nobles and defeats the invading Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld in Germany.
1539 King Francis of France declares that all official documents are to be written in French, not Latin.
1557 French troops are defeated by Emmanuel Philibert’s Spanish army at St. Quentin, France.
1582 Russia ends its 25-year war with Poland.
1628 The Swedish warship Vasa capsizes and sinks in Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage.
1779 Louis XVI of France frees the last remaining serfs on royal land.
1831 William Driver of Salem, Massachusetts, is the first to use the term “Old Glory” in connection with the American flag, when he gives that name to a large flag aboard his ship, the Charles Daggett.
1846 The Smithsonian Institution is established in Washington through the bequest of James Smithson.
1864 Confederate Commander John Bell Hood sends his cavalry north of Atlanta to cut off Union General William Sherman’s supply lines. Continue reading “August 10”

August 8 – Land Rovers used in famous Great Train Robbery

On this day in 1963, the 15 thieves involved in the Great Train Robbery, one of the most famous heists of all time, escape in an ex-British Army truck and two stolen Land Rover four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles, making off with some $7 million in stolen loot.

The mastermind of the Great Train Robbery was Bruce Reynolds, a known burglar and armed robber. Inspired by the railroad heists of the Wild West in America, Reynolds and 14 other men wearing ski masks and helmets held up the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England. They used a false red signal to get the train to stop, then hit the driver with an iron bar, seriously injuring him, in order to gain control of the train. The thieves loaded 120 mailbags filled with the equivalent of $7 million in used bank notes into their Land Rovers and sped off. The vehicles had been stolen in central London and marked with identical license plates in order to confuse the police. Continue reading “August 8 – Land Rovers used in famous Great Train Robbery”

August 7 – Volkswagen halts production during World War II

On this day in 1944, under the threat of Allied bombing during World War II, the German car manufacturer Volkswagen halts production of the “Beetle,” as its small, insect-shaped automobile was dubbed in the international press.

Ten years earlier, the renowned automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche had signed a contract with Germany’s Third Reich to develop a prototype of a small, affordable “people’s car.” The German chancellor, National Socialist (Nazi) leader Adolf Hitler, called the car the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen (or “Strength-Through-Joy” car), after a Nazi-led movement ostensibly aimed at helping the working people of Germany. Porsche didn’t like that moniker; he preferred Volkswagen (meaning “people’s car”), the name under which the car had originally been developed. Continue reading “August 7 – Volkswagen halts production during World War II”

August 6 – American Bomber Drops Atom Bomb On Hiroshima

On this day in 1945, at 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, drops the world’s first atom bomb, over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people are killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 are injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of the fallout.

U.S. President Harry S. Truman, discouraged by the Japanese response to the Potsdam Conference’s demand for unconditional surrender, made the decision to use the atom bomb to end the war in order to prevent what he predicted would be a much greater loss of life were the United States to invade the Japanese mainland. And so on August 5, while a “conventional” bombing of Japan was underway, “Little Boy,” (the nickname for one of two atom bombs available for use against Japan), was loaded onto Lt. Col. Paul W. Tibbets’ plane on Tinian Island in the Marianas. Tibbets’ B-29, named the Enola Gay after his mother, left the island at 2:45 a.m. on August 6.

Continue reading “August 6 – American Bomber Drops Atom Bomb On Hiroshima”

August 5

1391 Castilian sailors in Barcelona, Spain set fire to a Jewish ghetto, killing 100 people and setting off four days of violence against Jews.
1763 Colonel Henry Bouquet decisively defeats the Indians at the Battle of Bushy Run in Pennsylvania during Pontiac’s rebellion.
1762 Russia, Prussia and Austria sign a treaty agreeing on the partition of Poland.
1815 A peace treaty with Tripoli–which follows treaties with Algeria and Tunis–brings an end to the Barbary Wars.
1858 The first transatlantic cable is completed.
1861 Congress adopts the nation’s first income tax to finance the Civil War.
1864 The Union Navy captures Mobile Bay in Alabama.
1892 Harriet Tubman receives a pension from Congress for her work as a nurse, spy and scout during the Civil War.
1914 The British Expeditionary Force mobilizes for World War I. Continue reading “August 5”

August 4

1265 King Henry III puts down a revolt of English barons lead by Simon de Montfort.
1578 A crusade against the Moors of Morocco is routed at the Battle of Alcazar-el-Kebir. King Sebastian of Portugal and 8,000 of his soldiers are killed.
1717 A friendship treaty is signed between France and Russia.
1789 The Constituent Assembly in France abolishes the privileges of nobility.
1790 The Revenue Cutter service, the parent service of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, is organized.
1864 Federal troops fail to capture Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, one of the Confederate forts defending Mobile Bay.
1875 The first Convention of Colored Newspapermen is held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1879 A law is passed in Germany making Alsace Lorraine a territory of the empire.
1914 Germany invades Belgium causing Great Britain to declare war on Germany.
1942 The British government charges that Mohandas Gandhi and his All-Indian Congress Party favor “appeasement” with Japan.
1944 RAF pilot T. D. Dean becomes the first pilot to destroy a V-1 buzz bomb when he tips the pilotless craft’s wing, sending it off course. Continue reading “August 4”

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