This Day in History - August 17

August 17

1743 – Sweden cedes Finland to Russia

1785 – Connecticut Patriot during American Revolution, Jonathan Trumbull, dies

1786 – American frontiersman who died defending the Alamo, Davy Crockett, is born

1786 – Prussian King, Frederick the Great, dies

1807 – The Clermont, the first commercially successful steamboat designed by Robert Fulton, begins its trip up the Hudson to Albany.

1812 – The Russians are defeated at the Battle of Smolensk by Napoleon Bonaparte and retreat back to Russia

1833 – The Royal William, a Canadian ship that is the first to cross the Atlantic solely on its own power, begins her journey to The Isle of Wight

1850 – 1st President of Peru, Jose de San Martin, dies

1862 – Minnesota is attacked viciously by Dakota Indians

1863 – Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC is attacked by Union gunboats for the first time during the Civil War

1877 – Infamous outlaw during the Old West, William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, wounds an Arizona blacksmith who will die the next day, becoming The Kid’s first kill

1880 – Norwegian violinist and composer, Ole Bull, dies

1882 – American who helped start Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn, is born

1887 – Jamaican-born black nationalist, Marcus Garvey, who advocated the departure of African Americans back to Africa is born

1890 – Organizer of the Works Projects Administration under President Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, is born

1892 – American actress, Mae West, is born

1911 – Russian chess player, Mikhail Botvinnik, is born

1914 – Russian troops begin to advance into East Prussia, to attack Germany during World War I

1915 – Charles Kettering patents the electric starter

1923 – Painter and sculptor, Larry Rovers, is born

1932 – Basketball coach, Jon “Red” Kerr, is born

1933 – New York Yankee’s Lou Gehrig plays in his 1,308th consecutive game, breaking the previously held record owned by Everett Scott

1935 – American novelist and sociologist, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, dies

1942 – Lt. Col. Evans F Carlson and his Marine raiders land at Makin Island in the west Pacific Ocean, which was occupied by the Japanese during World War II

1943 – American actor who won Oscars for his roles in The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull, Robert DeNiro, is born

1943 – Allied forces take Sicily during World War II

1944 – CEO of Oracle Corporation, Lawrence Joseph Ellison, is born

1944 – Paris mayor Pierre Charles Tattinger meets with German commander Dietrich von Choltitz to discuss explosives that are being set off throughout city

1945 – Sukarno proclaims Indonesia’s independence from the Netherlands after learning that Japan has surrendered in World War II

1949 – Politician, Norm Coleman, is born

1953 – Book publisher, editor, and talk show host, Judith Regan, is born

1960 – American Francis Gary Powers pleads guilty at a trial in Moscow for spying over the Soviet Union in a U-2 plane

1960 – American Actor, Sean Penn, is born

1962 – East German guards shoot a young man, 18-year old Peter Fechter, who was trying to escape across the Berlin Wall into West Berlin during the Cold War. They leave him to bleed to death

1965 – Copy editor who sailed solo in a sailboat from Falmouth, Massachusetts to Falmouth, Cornwall, England, Robert Manry, is born

1968 – The Defense Department estimates 117,000 combat missions flown over North Vietnam in three years during the Vietnam War

1969 – The Woodstock Music Festival concludes

1969 – 248 people are killed by Hurricane Camille as she wiped out the Gulf Coast

1973 – The US and Thailand begin negotiations to reduce the number of Americans in Thailand during the Vietnam War

1978 – The Atlantic is crossed in a balloon for the first time by three Americans

1984 – A serial burglar and rapist known as “the Fox” breaks into a house in Brampton, England and physically assaults a girl, her brother, and her boyfriend. 

1987 – Rudolf Hess, a former Nazi leader under Adolf Hitler, is found hanged to death in Spandau Prison in an apparent suicide. He was the last living member of Hitler’s inner circle and the sole prisoner at Spandau since 1966

1988 – President Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan is killed in an airplane crash that is suspected of being an assassination

1993 – General Colin Powell is given the largest advance for an autobiography, roughly $6 million, by Random House, for the rights to his book, My American Journey

1998 – President Bill Clinton publicly admits to having had an affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky

1999 – 17,000 are killed and almost 45,000 injured by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake near Izmit, Turkey

2005 – As part of a unilateral disengagement plan, Israel begins forcing evacuation of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and West Bank

2008 – US swimmer Michael Phelps wins his eighth gold medal in the Beijing Olympics

2012 – The top court in Moscow upholds 100-year ban on gay pride events in Russia’s capital city

Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.

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